Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Obama and same-sex marriage: Is his current opposition real -- or just a craven political ploy?

James Kirchik has an op-ed in [Sunday's] Washington Post about Obama and same-sex marriage:
Obama's history on the issue does have a complicating twist. On a 1996 Illinois Senate race questionnaire, Obama (or more likely a staffer) wrote, "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." Liberals take from this revelation the assumption that Obama's apparent flip was insincere.
But there is nothing in his record since he became a national political figure that should give them any reason to think he will revert to his supposedly pro-gay-marriage position. And if Obama actually does believe in same-sex marriage, that makes his public opposition to it worse than it would be if he were genuinely opposed. How is it in any way reassuring to liberals to suppose that a politician agrees with them while selling them down the river? Even if Obama's apparent flip isn't genuine, he nonetheless acts as if it were, rendering his supposedly silent support worthless in tangible political terms. Whatever he "really" thinks, Obama's stance on gay marriage is virtually indistinguishable from that of John McCain.
For some time, liberal politicians have taken a largely wink-and-nod approach to gay issues. They've done so with the excuse that the culture must catch up before any progress can be made (an excuse that conveniently doesn't apply to other liberal interest groups, such as unions and trial lawyers, that do very well when Democrats are in power). Obama paid tribute to this timeworn tactic recently when he told gay activists at the White House: "I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, but by the promises my administration keeps. By the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."
Remember, in California, proponents of Prop. 8 used Obama in their ads, despite his stated opposition to that measure. Will we see the same thing this fall in Maine? Someone over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue better be thinking about that. Because if Obama is used against us by the right-wingers again, it's not going to be good. Not good at all.
Team Obama practices from political homophobia. And, it's going to catch up with them because the culture is changing fast. Catholics support same-sex marriage. And, Ted Olson is fighting for it. On this one, the candidate of change looks out-of-touch (and it's damaging the brand.)
I think Michelle Obama should be taking the lead on the same-sex marriage issue. She's the most sensible person in the White House from what I can tell.

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