‘Fierce Advocate’ Hosts LGBT Reception at the White House Under Scrutiny Over Marriage Position

ABC News takes a closer look at Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage, tying it to battleground states:

Whitehouse "The president has staked out a cynical political position aimed at not rocking the boat," said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues. "This states' rights argument is a separate but equal argument. Would the president have thought it right to let the states decide on the issue of interracial marriage, or on whether or not women should be allowed to vote?"

Obama's reluctance to embrace gay marriage, putting him among a minority of Americans in national polls, appears part of a broader effort to avoid alienating voters in battleground states, like Ohio and Nevada, where majorities have traditionally shown less support for the unions than voters overall.

…Bottom line, some gay rights advocates speculate, Obama likely believes he has more to lose than gain in coming out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Fierceadvocate And the NYT reports on the LGBT Pride reception happening in the White House later today, attended by dozens of guests excited by the marriage victory in New York:

But for their host, who does not endorse same-sex marriage, it could be somewhat awkward.

“I think they are trying to share the joy, which is genuine on their part, without changing his position,” Hilary Rosen, a prominent Democratic strategist, said of the White House. “I don’t think he can have it both ways here.”

Obama's position on states' rights is also scrutinized:

“That was the argument they made about segregation,” Ms. Rosen, who has long been supportive of Mr. Obama, said Tuesday. “I don’t think people really believe that he believes that. It flies in the face of everything he has stood for.”

Some, who remain supportive of Obama, are still mad as hell:

…Mr. Obama’s comments infuriated some prominent advocates and potential donors. They include Chad Griffin, who sits on the finance committee for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign and recently co-hosted a fund-raiser featuring Michelle Obama that raised more than $1 million, and Paul Yandura, a Democratic strategist who advises gay philanthropists, including some Obama donors.

“That language is really a dog whistle for the right,” Mr. Yandura said.


  1. bigolpoofter says

    Instead of the usual Washington ego stroking and photo op peddling, it would be refreshing to see Mr Obama meet with outside-the-bubble same-sex couples who benefiting from marriage equality; as well as some who can demonstrate the oppression of marriage bigotry. These receptions take on the air of LGBT acolytes receiving messages from on high while little changes for the masses.

  2. Russell says

    I’d be willing to wait until after the primaries for Obama to finish evolving. It’s just barely possible to take back the House next year, and get a lot of active homophobes out of state government as well. The primaries are the first important step towards all that. Meanwhile, Obama has still done more for us than the rest of the Presidents, who actually did nothing, and I’m grateful for it.

  3. Peter says

    Is anyone else at this point in time ok with his position? I think the black churches (as it is reported from Prop 8) have been very instrumental in President Obama’s calculation to not come out in favor of marriage, even if he is privately evolving or whatever the hell that means. I was of course shocked when Bill Burton said that his questionnaire was not approved but I would much rather have him in office helping pass DADT repeal, ENDA and getting DOMA off the books than an R in the White House.I also keep in mind Hillary Clinton has the same stance but early in the term I thought she might be the more “fierce advocate.”

  4. bkmn says

    I never have understood how a constitutional scholar who is half black could stand behind “separate but equal”.

    As Pam Spaulding says, this GayTM is closed.

  5. daftpunkydavid says

    i agree with much of what has been said BUT can someone please tell me how WE are not being inconsistent here ourselves: aren’t WE making the “state’s rights” argument re: the doma section that prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriage? i’m ready to give him a pass then…

  6. Matt says

    I think the gay community is being unfair to Obama. Although he was a serious foot-dragger, in the end he delivered: a hate crimes law, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and some helpful executive orders addressing nondiscrimination and hospital rights. He is an advocate of ours. It is in our interests that he be re-elected. He accomplishes nothing by endorsing gay marriage in the heat of the 2012 election and expose himself to greater chance of re-election loss. In fact, if Obama came out for gay marriage and then lost, that would be a huge setback for the gay community, as it would teach politicians that there’s a serious price to pay for being pro-marriage. My preference would be for him to evolve shortly after the 2012 election. If you want a real fierce advocate, vote for Fred Karger — but what use is a fierce advocate that can’t win the office?

  7. Abel says

    Does Obama think the tea party types he seems to be pandering to are going to vote for him anyway? All he’s doing is showing himself to be wishy-washy and cowardly. We thought you were a man with the courage of your convictions, Mr. Obama. Instead you’re just a conniving (and not very convincing) politician. Man up, Mr. President.

  8. adam says

    Obama doesn’t deserve a cent of our money. He’s a classic politician who will say anything on the moment if there’s an advantage to be gained from it. When the moment changes, the tune changes.

    As gay people, we need to be firm and determined. We will not send one cent to any Democrat in the upcoming election.

  9. Chris says

    Like others have said, President Obama has done more for gay rights in 2.5 years than every other president combined. Is it really that important for him to come out for marriage equality now and risk losing the WH to some right-wing nut job? It is pretty obvious that he is privately for marriage equality but he needs to keep quiet about it until after the election. He will then say he has “evolved”.

    Lay off him, fellow queers. He is doing a great job. You antagonizing him is only playing in to the R’s hands.

  10. princely54 says

    I agree that Obama has done quite a bit for this community, without being an open supporter or marriage equality. I, too, was upset with him for not moving quickly enough on DOMA and DADT. But he’s made them happen (even if DOMA still exists, he’s made the right move by not defending it.)

    So, I am willing to let him be half-assed about marriage equality for now. If it means getting him instead of ANY Republycan, I will take it for the time being. It’s an untenable position after 2012 though.

  11. Russell says

    I don’t think Obama stands a chance of losing the 2012 presidential election. The calculation has to do with the downticket elections. Obama’s public positions influence outcomes for numerous other candidates.

  12. adam says

    Forget Obama’s position on marriage, what about his vow to bring in an employment anti-discrimination act? He had two years where he presided over a Democrat majority in the Senate yet he did nothing about it. He’s a vacillating, triangulating, calculating mass of do-nothing.

    Obama doesn’t care about us. All he wants is our money. Even on DADT, he had to be pushed into repealing it. It was OUR activism which did it, not Obama’s.

    If you want to send money to Obama, go right ahead. Just don’t complain when you realize your money’s gone to waste.

  13. Grant says

    Chris, I don’t want to agree with you because, frankly, I’m pissed off about this–but that said, I see your reasoning. Obama may be playing this the way he perceives it needs to be played in order to ultimately win post-2012.

    Still, it stings. A lot.

  14. chris says

    he needs political cover thru November 2012. I don;t know why people won;t allow him 1 more year of room. The risks of opening him up to this otherwise are enormous….as in say…Michelle Bachman…or worse.

  15. Robert says

    If Obama believes it’s up to the states to decide on marriage equality, would he apply the same belief, for the sake of consistency, to states when it came to civil rights for African Americans in the 60s, Roe v Wade?

  16. Joetx says

    Abel FTW.

    If Chad Griffin & Paul Yandura are sincerely angry w/ Obama, they should quit working to get him reelected. That’s what I would do.

  17. thowellnyc says

    If he wants marriage equality state by state how can I be married on my state tax filing and single on my federal tax filing? Someone please tell me how to access the FEDERAL rights of marriage if it’s gonna be state by state. Please…..please… I’m not hearing you.

  18. Major707 says

    And we wonder why in the 21st century gays still have no civil rights?
    Just reading these comments we as a group are just as dysfunctional as the Democrats. What our community needs is a strong leader to unit us and speak for as one…..we need our MLK.

  19. says

    Obama will be the pro-gay candidate in 2012. So, however flawed he may be, he will be the choice for anyone who sees gay rights as a priority and doesn’t support the anti-gay Republican platform.

    That said, NY is a tipping point for marriage equality, and Obama’s wishy-washy “evolving” position is increasingly being seen, even by the mainstream media now, for what it is: disingenuous. If he goes into the election not supporting equality and then changes his tune right after the election, he’s setting himself and us up for failure–political posturing and obvious calculation become ludicrous after a point. If he is going to support equality, he needs to do it sooner rather than later, or else the history will get so far ahead of him that whatever position he takes will seem archaic.

    The pressure he’s getting now is a good thing–for those of us who support him and don’t plan on voting Republican but are tired of his mushy instead of actual fierce advocacy, the only way we’re going to force him to step up to the plate is by making it financially and politically disadvantageous for him to continue with his irrational position on marriage equality. Clearly, he’s interested in his place in history, but the window of opportunity for him to have a place in gay civil rights history is closing fast.

  20. Frankie says

    Richard Socarides needs to STFU. He was Pres. Clinton advisor on gay issues which resulted in DOMA and DADT. Now he’s hawking the airwaves and trying to champion marriage equality. Him and Ken Mehlman drink from the same poisoned well.

  21. ohplease says

    Barack Obama is not just our enemy, he is a ridiculous laughing-stock. I only support politicians who think all people are equal. I don’t support corporate puppet pretend bigots like Barack obama.

  22. Dalton says

    PETER: “I think the black churches (as it is reported from Prop 8) have been very instrumental in President Obama’s calculation to not come out in favor of marriage, even if he is privately evolving or whatever the hell that means.”

    Whatever the hell does that mean? The entire Black caucus in NYS legislature voted for marriage and NOT one will lose their seat or be primaried because of it. The entire Congressional Black Caucus supported DADT, all except for one voted for ENDA and hate crimes, and most have HRC ratings in the 80s or 90s.

    If anyone is stopping equality, its WHITE REPUBLICANS, OLDER WHITE VOTERS and WHITE EVANGELICALS coast to coast. Just like it was WHITE Republicans who opposed in New York and proposed marriage amendments in Indiana, Minnesota and North Carolina.

    Many black churches might be opposed to marriage equality, unfortunately that is the sad case with most mainline Protestant churches. But I can guarantee you that Obama will lose ZERO BLACK VOTES over repealing DADT, DOMA or even marriage.

    You’re a fool if you think Black voters and churches will abandon Obama over marriage. And you’re a racist to imply Black churches are the reason why he isn’t reversed his campaign platform on marriage.

  23. ratbastard says

    POTUS is a politician. They tell people what they want to hear, audience taylored. He’s also a lawyer. Enough said.

  24. BobN says

    Oh, yes, let’s make same-sex marriage THE campaign issue of 2012.

    President Bachmann will be oh so pleased with us…

  25. says

    @BobN: There will be no President Bachmann. Giving the President political cover from doing the right thing is as politically risky as pressuring him to be what he said he’d be, a fierce advocate. Times have changed even since 2008, and now fierce advocates support marriage equality. If we start running away from marriage equality, it makes it seem like the discrimination is somehow justified, or that we don’t have a case to make. We do. Obama doesn’t at this point. Political games eventually get exposed as just that, and they won’t win him many voters.

    And Dalton is right: Obama is not going to lose black voters, even homophobic black voters, so any perceived political risk in that regard is overstated.

  26. Chitown Kev says


    I am a black man and I am uncomfortable with the first African American president talking about “states rights” as it relates to civil rights issues.

    It looks icky and gives me slight feeling of disgust.

    Even though that I think that PBO is right about both the legal and political aspects of this question