Is Obama a Believer in Equality or Not?

The White House's statement on the Prop 8 victory, as I noted yesterday in the "reactions" post, delivered by spokesman Ben LaBolt:

Fierceadvocate "The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans."

An odd statement from a President whose official position on marriage is not equality, and whose Justice Department continues to aggressively defend DOMA in the courts.

Said an aide to Politico: He supports civil unions, doesn’t personally support gay marriage though he supports repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, and has opposed divisive and discriminatory initiatives like Prop. 8 in other states."

Politico looks at how Obama's unwillingness to be a "fierce advocate" on social issues, particularly marriage equality, has become increasingly untenable with the Prop 8 decision:

Gay activists lauded Obama's stance, but remain disappointed and a tad puzzled by his unwillingness to simply endorse gay marriage.

“His position on Prop. 8 has always been clear. What has not been clear is how he squares his position for equality with his refusal to embrace actual equality in marriage. That is unclear, increasingly unclear, and there’s no good reason to explain it,” said Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry. “That’s an unsatisfying position that does nothing but frustrate those of us who look to him as the champion he promised to be…He’s not gaining anything and Judge Walker just made that crystal clear.”

Same-sex marriage opponents also view Obama’s position as unsustainable in light of Walker’s decision.

“He’s got to show his cards,” said Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. “Do you support one San Francisco judge in imposing his view of marriage on the rest of the country or not?… Anyone who just looks at this from an objective point of view realizes the president’s position is untenable.”

The Washington Post is on the Obama – gay marriage conundrum:

"The California case will likely take years before it reaches the Supreme Court and commands presidential attention. But the issue of gay marriage — and, more broadly, the issue of gay rights — remains a sensitive one for a president who received a significant amount of support from the gay community."

Nate Silver wonders if gay marriage will once again become a campaign issue.

Writes Silver: "My best guess is that the Tea Party will largely continue to shirk the issue, but that the Republican Establishment will be fairly happy to engage it. The real battle, however, may come in 2012, when the Supreme Court could be about ready to take up the case. The leading indicator may be the reactions of the major Presidential hopefuls. For instance, will Sarah Palin produce a tweet or Facebook post containing the the phrases 'activist judge' or 'judicial activism' within the next 24 hours? It may depend on which type of conservatives — the tea-partiers, or the movement conservatives of the Republican Establishment — that she ultimately wants to affiliate herself with."

Americablog has posted a letter asking Obama to support full marriage equality. You can sign it HERE.


  1. says

    This all just points to Obama being just another clueless straight guy who thinks the whole gay thing is pretty gross.

  2. neverstops says

    I still don’t understand what he has to gain by playing the “middle”

    the right wing & tea baggers won’t vote for him in a million years no matter what he does – moves to appease them are an absolute waste

    of course it will me a campaign issue in the coming 2 elections… the right is itching to exploit people’s fear of us – still a long fight ahead

  3. nick says

    Unfortunately-the Prop 8 decision will galvanize the right even more for the midterms and 2012. BHO a right to the center man if there ever was one-
    never had any intention of upholding justice for gay people and the center right Dems in congress -who control things-have no inclination to help gay people either.
    The Supremes will uphold Prop 8 on appeal.
    The road to equality has begun but it will be a very long time before equality is achieved. We cannot give up the fight-

  4. DN says

    I’ve don’t believe for a second that Obama doesn’t agree with gay marriage. I also have never believed that in 2008 or 2012 a president can win if he supports gay marriage – it would simply cost him too many votes.

    I don’t resent Obama for not coming out and supporting actual marriage equality. Then again, during the 2008 campaign, I never believed that he wouldn’t throw us under the bus the first time we really came up.

    Gays are never going to win at the legistlative level until society comes to see as normal human beings, and America just isn’t there yet.

    That battle was fought on the racial level, and now the fact is that no anti-black, anti-jewish, or anti-latino politican would get elected today. But that wasn’t the case a few decades ago. Someday, sure, legislatures and Congress will consent to giving us full equal rights, but that’s not soon enough. This is why we *have* to go through the courts if we want any progress before 2050.

  5. Fenrox says

    I really don’t care if Obama is for gay marriage, just that he isn’t against it.

    I think it could be construed as classy not taking a position on something like gay marriage as long as you don’t prevent it.

    I have to take issue with civil unions though. Any rational person in power should be able to see the inherent apartheid in such a farce. If you wont pick a side on gay marriage do not pick a side on civil unions.

  6. Mike says

    Look, he’s already told us several times he doesn’t support marriage equality. Period. His religion doesn’t allow it. Get over it. HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO US.

  7. crispy says

    I think a far more perplexing question is: How long will Bedwell’s comment be on this one, and is there a max word count?

  8. says

    Technically, President Obama’s terse statement yesterday is consistent with his past statements. He was always against Prop 8. He is still unwilling to publicly express support for allowing same-sex couples to marry. Nothing new.

    But, what the decision does do is cast light on the irrationality of President Obama’s (and many other politicians’) opposition to marriage equality. Previously, they’ve been able to get away with fudging a response with nonsense like “religion is in the mix” or “I support equality in the form of civil unions.” Yet, as Judge Walker’s decision affirms, religion has no business being in the mix of a civil institution, and CUs are not equal to marriage, period. The fudged arguments will seem increasingly irrational as rational people focus on cases presented by the likes of Boies and Olson, and the arguments of the opposition are decisively dismantled one by one.

    So the only “rational” argument remaining is a political one. Presidential candidates who support marriage equality will lose, or so goes the theory. And to contradict himself now would be potential gold for the Republicans in 2012. He’s in a bind. He’s a rational man on the wrong side of history but, currently, on the right side of public opinion. The political justification for opposing marriage equality is only going to get flimsier with time as these cases march on with or without presidential approval, and the public tide shifts. Who will be the first viable presidential candidate to stop the cowardice and put reason before public prejudice? Or will they only have the balls to speak out for justice after the courts have ruled?

  9. DR says

    More Democrats continue to turn in their spines at the door. If there is any evidence needed to show that Obama doesn’t give a rat’s behind about LGBT families, here it is. Another tepid statement by the White House which dodged the issue, just like the statement issued when Iowa’s state supreme court gave full marriage equality to its citizens.

    We support this guy why?

  10. says

    We support this guy because the alternative is far worse. Faint praise, but a sound reason to support something.

    However, Obama is the schmuck who is going to end up having to either entrench himself as anti-equality OR have a dramatic evolution. After all these years of most Democrats having the luxury of being able to say they’re pro-civil unions but anti-marriage—and not be considered wildly homophobic for it—he’s either the one left standing when the music stops or he better quickly find a seat. I totally agree that he could NOT have done this and won in 2008, but I believe he can not NOT do this and expect to win in 2012. Democrats are evolving on this issue too quickly for him to keep up.

  11. says

    I agree, Matthew.

    And to further answer DR’s question, 2 words: Supreme Court.

    Who’s on the SC matters a whole lot more than any tepid statements by the White House.

  12. LincolnLounger says

    I can’t stand her, but Hillary Clinton wouldn’t muck around the middle like this band of idiots is. What a bunch of phoneys.

  13. Ed says

    LincolnLounger, what makes you think Hillary would be better? After all it was her husband and administration that gave us DADT, DOMA, etc. Talk about phoney.

  14. Randy says

    After this decision (and the DOMA decision) Obama is proven unworthy of LGBT support.

    Obama is to even the right of many in the Republican party on this issue (many, not the majority of course).

    It makes sense to suffer some short term Republican pain, to get a real Democrat in the white house in the future.

    I thought Bill Clinton was a disappointment, and he was, but at least he put up a fight against our opponents when he could. Obama’s first thought is to fight US, not the other side.

  15. says

    “Obama is to even the right of many in the Republican party on this issue (many, not the majority of course).”

    Um, RANDY: Who, among plausible Republican presidential candidates, is Obama to the right of?

    “It makes sense to suffer some short term Republican pain, to get a real Democrat in the white house in the future.”

    Supreme Court appointees are the very opposite of “short term.”

    As for Hillary, who knows what her response to this ruling would be if she were President? She’s not. It’s all fantasy and irrelevant. But neither she nor her husband were strangers to “mucking around the middle.” To suggest otherwise is to rewrite history.

  16. Joe says

    Obama is not a leader. He’s a consensus builder. Don’t expect anything from this guy until he needs us again in 2012. Maybe not even then…

  17. future_man says

    If we had support for same-sex marriage in all fifty states then it wouldn’t really matter what Obama’s personal feelings were on the matter.

    And I am confident we will get there eventually.

    It just makes common sense, as male/female couples have already succeeded in peopling the earth.

    Now new natural laws come into play in which non-procreative couples deserve to be honored along with procreative couples.

    Honored for keeping human populations within the “carrying capacity” of the planet.

    That’s the future.