2012 Election | Gay Marriage | John Kerry

John Kerry Defends President's 'Evolving' Gay Politics

JohnKerry LGBT activists and allies have criticized President Obama for saying that he's "evolving" on marriage equality.

Senator John Kerry, however, sees nothing technically wrong with the commander-in-chief's stance, and penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe explaining why:

Pundits ask whether President Obama can afford to “change’’ his position on gay marriage. It’s a phony debate about a real issue.

Marriage is deeply personal - our positions are based on unique combinations of reason, belief, and experience, not polling and politics.

Everyone is entitled to his own view, in his own time, including the president.

While Kerry agrees the president should be able to move at his own pace, the senator also insists, "The America we aspire to doesn't have any second class citizens," and concludes, "Although it sometimes take too long, America always ends up on the right side of history."

Basically, Kerry says Obama is entitled to his position, but would be better off leading the way, rather than being remembered as a stumbling block to progress. Whether the president agrees remains to be seen.

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  1. I would hardly call Obama a stumbling block to progress. For him to lead a national campaign for gay marriage right now would be political suicide. If gay activists can't understand that basic political reality, then they are stupider than I thought.

    Posted by: frank | Jul 10, 2011 10:33:50 AM

  2. Anytime a heterosexual national politician stands up for us in public like this -- and that's what this is -- we should cheer him or her on.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 10, 2011 11:00:04 AM

  3. What is really discouraging are the cowardly, sycophantic comments that seem to be overruning this blog.

    Posted by: gaylib | Jul 10, 2011 11:03:24 AM

  4. Of course politicians don't make decisions based on campaign contributions, lobby money, polls or political pressure, it's all about personal conscience. Does Kerry think we're all f'ing 12??
    And the idea that someone who was planning on voting for Obama would suddenly change their mind because he came out in support of marriage equality is not thinking clearly. Plus this whole states rghts nonsense is just that, both from a constitutional standpoint, and the fact that most of the rights of marriage come from the fed!

    Posted by: The Iron Orchard | Jul 10, 2011 11:11:25 AM

  5. "The America we aspire to doesn't have any second class citizens".

    Could this clown be any further detached from reality, "aspire to"! Yeah, in theory by some. There are millions of Americans that would love to KEEP LGBT Americans, among others, second class citizens.

    When we ALL have equal rights only then will we live in a country where there are no second class citizens. Until then STFU Kerry!

    Posted by: Jake | Jul 10, 2011 11:50:03 AM

  6. Oh look, GAYLIB crawled out from under his rock once again. I thought we were done with him. Next we'll be subjected to the wonderful writings of TANK again too.

    Posted by: Joe | Jul 10, 2011 11:57:23 AM

  7. Yeah, and we should all still be patiently waiting for unreconstructed Southerners to evolve their views on racial equality because, you know, they're all entitled to their own views.

    Posted by: K in VA | Jul 10, 2011 12:15:12 PM

  8. Mr. Kerry's comments would carry more weight if he acknowledged the political gaming that is taking place.

    "It’s a phony debate about a real issue," is true enough but subtly reinforces that opinion polls & personal beliefs are somehow MORE relevant than 14th Amendment (equality under law) & separation of church & state.

    The President, the child of a mixed-race marriage & student of Constitutional Law, should understand better than anyone the legal question of second-class status.

    This is prejudice masquerading as religious fervor, & politics masquerading as soul-searching. Mr. Kerry, I understand your wanting to provide 'cover' for the Prez on this, I'm not blind to the prejudice in our nation, but seriously- enough already!

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Jul 10, 2011 12:32:22 PM

  9. The problem with Kerry's thesis is that it's based on the unproven premise that Obama and other politicians are sincerely changing their minds about SSM based on new "knowledge and experience". But none of these politicians ever specify what this new knowledge and experience consists of and how their conversion came about. They can't because the conversion would reflect worse on them than the original bigoted or opportunistic belief.

    What would Obama say, 'I use to think that gays were not fully human and therefore not entitled to equal rights but one day I met an actual gay person and he didn't seem so bad after all'? Maybe he could say, 'I never thought too much about gay people and certainly never realized that they had civil rights or feelings or such but then I moved to Washington and all that changed.' Not really much better than his current position, which is "I think gays are human and entitled to equal rights except where God says otherwise.'

    Posted by: Eric | Jul 10, 2011 12:56:39 PM

  10. @ Gaylib,

    But I don't understand your complaint, Gaylib. The previous complaint was that Obama's statements in support of LBGT equality were only "Pretty Words" with no action behind them.

    All right, here's action instead of Pretty Words. Read the DOJ brief from July 1st in Golinski v OPM:


    Isn't genuine action from the DOJ better than "Pretty Words"? Furthermore, Obama is on solid constitutional ground using his DOJ to fight DOMA, and you'll notice that the Republicans aren't accusing him of any untoward behavior. That's because it's the president's right to fight DOMA using the DOJ. However, since DOMA says that the federal government can't recognize same-sex marriage, wouldn't the Republican say that Obama is being "disrespectful" toward the law and the state-level debate if he started a "Pretty Words" campaign in favor of same-sex marriage. Unless, Gaylib, you are really rooting for the Republican presidential ticket in 2012. Run along now, Gaylib, and play nice.

    Posted by: Anthony-S | Jul 10, 2011 1:08:45 PM

  11. It's not evolution to go from a position of supporting SSM in 1996 to not supporting it in 2008.

    Posted by: Eric | Jul 10, 2011 2:16:07 PM

  12. Like the words of a man who lost to Bush, despite having four years of material to draw on are of any importance...

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 10, 2011 2:58:21 PM

  13. Yes, Mr. Obama is entitled to HIS own view but NOT the president of the UNITED STATES!

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 10, 2011 3:23:49 PM

  14. I need to frame my point-of-reference to my response to this post. I have a very open and loving family who know I am gay and embrace it. I have talked to a number of my family members (most of whom are about my age) who believe in marriage equality -- including some of my mother's sisters.

    I have also talked with my mother, on a number of occasions, about marriage equality and she will not accept it; though she accepts every other rights, freedoms and protections the gay community ask for. I observed in my conversations with her that, for her, it has nothing to with gays, it has to do with "re-defining" an institution that she participates in and which she has a deeply-ingrained understanding of how it is defined. "Challenging" that institution challenges her participation in it, and, as a consequence, in her mind, challenges her own identity as a participant in an institution that is so meaningful to her life.

    I'm actively working to change my mother's views on marriage equality. But I'm doing it slowly and gently; because I don't want to "challenge" her understanding of marriage, I want to expand it. In the process, I've noticed her views begin to bend; it's probably helpful I have back up from supportive family members on the question. The point is, she's "evolving"; and not for political reasons.

    With that in mind, I am accepting President Obama's assertion that his views are evolving. I understand that his role in our society is much different and more pivotal than my mother's; but I also understand he is a person. He needs to be moved. But he cannot be demonized for asserting where he is.

    Marriage is a very complex social question that involves much more than the rights and privileges supplied to the institution by government. People with a narrower understanding of what the institution is need to be moved through sound argument and patient personal prodding. Trying to force that move may achieve the political objective, but it won't achieve the inter-personal and social objectives necessary for marriage as an institution to be meaningful once the political objective is achieved.

    Posted by: William | Jul 10, 2011 4:07:01 PM

  15. @ Randy - Amen.

    Posted by: Joetx | Jul 10, 2011 6:10:02 PM

  16. My "Amen" goes to William. Well-said.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 10, 2011 6:26:18 PM

  17. Obama is certainly a wimpy leader on GLBT issues. But, it could be much worse, Americans might have elected McCain/Palin.

    Posted by: Joe in CT | Jul 10, 2011 6:55:23 PM

  18. About two weeks ago, Obama announced that he did not support gay marriage. Simultaneously, I announced that I no longer was voting for Barak Obama. Period - end of discussion.

    Posted by: Tarc | Jul 10, 2011 11:24:48 PM

  19. @ Tarc,

    Well, not really the "end of discussion". Just the end of your own questions about who to vote for.

    Posted by: Anthony-S | Jul 10, 2011 11:39:57 PM

  20. I worked so hard to get this ass hat elected. SO GLAD he lost!

    Posted by: FunMe | Jul 11, 2011 7:06:14 AM

  21. I will never forget John Kerry's homophobic panderinc, where the ignorant opportunist said he could understand why a soldier would not want to be in the same foxhole with a queer.

    The man will always and forever be a motormouth idiot to me.

    Posted by: wimsy | Jul 11, 2011 10:27:24 AM

  22. William: If my family's Bronze Age religion is more important to them than my happiness, they can get out of my life, and stay out.

    I told them that, and their minds quickly changed.

    Posted by: wimsy | Jul 11, 2011 10:32:23 AM

  23. @ William,
    I pointed out the difference between Civil & Religious marriage to my folks & reminded them they had raised me not to be 2nd best to anyone... They got it.
    She can take all the time in the world, & never change her feelings at all, I could not care less. Religious fervor cannot be accepted as an excuse for civil discrimination. No doubt you are a fine example of what a great son can be. I pity your mother for squandering the relation she COULD have with you today.
    ps: my folks no longer participate at church, they watch on TV. :)

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Jul 11, 2011 5:37:55 PM

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