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Watch: Obama Feelings About Gay Marriage 'Constantly Evolving'


Hi folks. Didn't get a chance to post some material from yesterday as I was traveling to Montana to be with my family for the Christmas holiday. That said, posting will probably be lighter than usual over the next week or so. I hope you all have a peaceful and relaxing holiday wherever you are.

Echoing sentiments he expressed to reporter Kerry Eleveld in an interview posted this week in The Advocate, Obama told reporters yesterday, during questions regarding DADT, that he's wrestling with the notion of marriage equality.

Said Obama:

With respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I’ve spoken about this recently.  As I’ve said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving.  I struggle with this.  I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions.  And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.

At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have.  And I think -- and I think that’s the right thing to do.  But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.


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  1. They never ask him how his feelings "evolved" from endorsing marriage equality to denying gays the right to marry.

    Merry Christmas, gay folks. The President of the United States wants you to die for him, but won't let you marry each other. Enjoy the Separate But Equalness, everyone.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Dec 23, 2010 9:17:58 AM

  2. It's all such a game.

    I hope he knows what he's doing...

    Meanwhile, I'll continue to contemplate all the ways that separate is not equal.

    Posted by: pete N sfo | Dec 23, 2010 9:18:49 AM

  3. He knows what he's doing. Otherwise his response wouldn't be two paragraphs.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 23, 2010 9:29:18 AM

  4. If he really says what he thinks, Palin will be your next president.

    Posted by: Jason | Dec 23, 2010 9:52:02 AM

  5. People who not only understand (which I'm sure we all do) but ACCEPT the reality of what politics is all about see that this is theater, and see that this show is going to end with a conversion (reversion, in his case) to being pro-equality all the way. That is a good thing. I'd rather have him say, "You know what, I'm pro-marriage equality." just because I know that's the truth and because that benefits me. But if he can swing this in a way that doesn't spook the parts of the country that are genuinely wrestling, that will be good for us. President Palin will be bad for us.

    I am hopeful his evolution will occur while he's still in office as opposed to Bill Clinton's equally phony evolution, which didn't come until he'd been out of office for nine years. (And it would also be cool if Hillary, who has a great, internationally persuasive bully pulpit of her own, would hurry up and announce her evolution, too.)

    I was very disappointed in President Obama a month ago. Now, not so much. I'm not ready to start bitching about his imperfections again so soon after a monumentally satisfying run of successes.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Dec 23, 2010 9:58:33 AM

  6. Obama is all about the long game. It is TRULY annoying at times, but so far it has totally worked with respect to "the gay agenda."

    He knows that there is zero chance that Congress will take on gay issues for at least 2 years. Which is fine by him, because why let a wedge issue derail his re-election chances? Then during his second term, he can say "well times have changed, gays have served openly in the military for years, several states have marriage equality and the world didnt end, so its time to repeal DOMA." Assuming of course that Dems take back Congress (unlikely until at least 2014).

    Posted by: Scott | Dec 23, 2010 10:16:50 AM

  7. You know, Scott. I'm starting to think you're right.

    Maybe he's not a total twink.

    Posted by: Christmas Grinch | Dec 23, 2010 10:30:59 AM

  8. His current statements are constrained by politics, pure and simple. This isn't a bigoted man who doesn't understand that separate is NOT equal. Although the numbers on gay marriage opposition have softened, it won't happen on his watch. It will take more years than he will have in office. Like DADT, he can't end DOMA with an Executive Order (he has even less leverage here because he can't issue a 'stop-loss' on discharges) and it will, again, take an act of congress. But, we need to KEEP HITTING them with it over and over and over until the wall comes down.

    Posted by: princely54 | Dec 23, 2010 10:38:22 AM

  9. Btw, I am looking for a good hat to eat given that I really doubted DADT repeal would happen this year. I will be similarly happy to down another one if DOMA goes away by the time Obama's out of office.

    Posted by: princely54 | Dec 23, 2010 10:39:33 AM

  10. I think Obama is playing a smart game. Let's be real. George Bush was personally for gay marriage (at least that's what Laura said). I can't believe Obama really has a problem with it either. What he needs to do though is to get America behind him. I think he's playing this drama to show America his path to accepting gay marriage to give everyone a blueprint as to how they too can accept gay marriage. I know it's frustrating because we all want everything now. Realistically, that's not going to happen and this tactic of Obama's might have some brilliance behind it.

    Posted by: Jesse | Dec 23, 2010 10:44:16 AM

  11. I think gay marriage needs a commercial where all the gay men and lesbian women go to the back of the bus.

    Have a man sitting up front, and then when another man asks him about marriage, he starts to stand...

    "How would you feel about having to move to the back?"

    Posted by: Rob | Dec 23, 2010 10:51:46 AM

  12. A message to all the gay Obama voters who voted Republican in the last election to "punish" Obama: How does that decision seem now?

    Repeal of DOMA and marriage equality might have stood a chance if so many people - gay, straight, what have you - weren't so quick to judge, and so hasty to "punish" a smart guy who is doing a pretty impressive job of navigating his way through a lot of bigots and conniving politicians.

    Posted by: Matt in NYC | Dec 23, 2010 10:58:32 AM

  13. Whatever Preznit Prettywords. You used to be for it before you were against it and now that you know you can't do anything about it, you might be for it again. I tell you, my thoughts are evolving to not to vote for you in the next election. This is all political theater because he threw his base under the bus over and over again and now he's trying to win back support. Meanwhile his dept of Justice is still fighting two court cases, one to appeal DADT unconstitutionality and the other to keep soldier Margaret Witt from serving in the armed forces as a lesbian. Whatever!

    Posted by: Brad | Dec 23, 2010 11:01:38 AM

  14. You have hit the nail on the head Jesse. President Obama is leading by example making parts of his thought process as open as possible throughout his presidency. I had my doubts the first year but his legislative track record is extremely impressive. The events of yesterday brought me sobbing to my knees. It was the political equivalent of hitting three back to back home runs. (DADT, START, 911 first responder’s bill) He will be a two term president, God willing and one of the last things that he will do I predict will be to sign a bill ending DOMA.

    Posted by: Dave | Dec 23, 2010 11:06:36 AM

  15. i liked tapper's question about the intellectual incongruity between "all men are created equal" and marital discrimination against gay americans.

    Posted by: r | Dec 23, 2010 11:29:27 AM

  16. "If he really says what he thinks, Palin will be your next president."

    Nope. If Obama keeps giving everyone the impression that he's a weak, wishy-washy, "any way the wind blows" president who backs down or "compromises" on everything, THEN Palin will be our next president.

    People LIKE presidents who take a stand and actually seem tough, even on controversial issues. It's why those who are seen as, you know, actually "leading" tend to get second terms, and those who are perceived as flailing around, offering mealy-mouthed statements rather than responses that take a hard stand, giving up and giving in all the time generally don't. Obama was firm in what he said about gay rights during the election and he still got elected with a good size vote. So it's NOT the "taking a stand on gay rights" that's gonna lose him the election, it's the perception of "not taking a stand on a lot of things once he got in office" that'll do it.

    The people who are handing the next election to Palin are the ones who want Obama to keep backing down, compromising, and offering wishy-washy "I'm still evolving on that" style answers. Voters then just see him as a wussy and voters HATE that.

    The people who are doing the most to give Obama a chance in the next election are the ones who call for him to grow a pair and act like a leader with some fight in him. He sort of started to do that a little here at the end of DADT and with this "lame duck" Congress, so let's see more of THAT Obama, rather than the Mr. Milquetoast we see in these "I'm still evolving" style statements.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Dec 23, 2010 12:34:59 PM

  17. Maybe in his next term Obama can address the issue of bisexual marriage.

    Posted by: Randall Krause | Dec 23, 2010 1:25:23 PM

  18. I'm so tired of people bashing Obama. He hasnt done everything right, but what President has? He is by far the best advocate that we have EVER had in the White House. Look at this link and you'll see how much change has occurred, then you can talk. It's not all about us all the time.

    Posted by: AJ | Dec 23, 2010 2:20:25 PM

  19. I just get from that two things:

    1) He wants supporters of marriage equality to understand that he *may* switch in the future to supporting it. A bit of a tease.

    2) He's softening the rest of the public, should he switch, so it won't seem like a major 'flip flop' when he says "see, after all that time I said I was evolving, I really evolved!"

    The important thing here is 2 is only possible if he wins a second term IMO, and then probably only possible if he has majorities in Congress and the Senate to act on something like a repeal of DOMA.

    That said, I also like the hints he's dropped that suggest because Congress isn't going to be willing to work on a DOMA repeal or 'compromise' of some kind over the next two years, his DoJ may not be willing to defend it. If he takes that mantle up and stops defending DOMA on those grounds, I think I'll forgive him for defending DADT so mightily in court for all that time. At least it'll prove some consistency...

    Posted by: Ryan | Dec 23, 2010 4:52:32 PM

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