Kerry Eleveld Calls Obama Out On ‘Evolving’ Marriage Policy

Eleveld_Obama All-star journalist Kerry Eleveld today published a piece at The Daily Beast in which she dissects and analyzes President Obama's "evolving" stance on marriage equality, and explains why the commander-in-chief should take the lead on an issue he's so far relegated to the states.

Here's but a taste of her lucid and compelling argument:

The president’s posture has roiled some Americans. But others have made the case that far from hamstringing the marriage-equality movement, Obama is helping it by wisely withholding his endorsement as the issue simmers and stews at the state level.

“The genius of federalism is that it allowed us to prove that marriage equality would not lead to catastrophe, that it has in fact coincided with a strengthening of straight marriage, that in many states now, the sky has not fallen,” Andrew Sullivan wrote in a Newsweek/Daily Beast post last week entitled A President, Not a Governor.  “Obama's defense of federalism in this instance is not a regressive throw-back; it is a pragmatic strategy.”

This logic is founded on two misguided assumptions: 1) that if Obama came out for same-sex marriage, the debate at the state level would somehow grind to a screeching halt; and 2) that Obama’s position exists outside that deliberation, magically affecting neither the content nor the outcome of the debate.

Eleveld also argues that a more progressive position from the president would both help show the Supreme Court, should it hear a case on California's Proposition 8, that the nation's ready for equality, and would raise the bar for other Democratic candidates around the country.

She concludes, "Here is what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt: making a callous argument to justify a political calculation isn’t advancing equality, it’s delaying it."


  1. dizzy spins says

    This is why the struggle towards equality is dragging—willfully ignorant gays who refuse to accept the reality of politics. Obama cannot actively endorse marriage equality until he is reelected or the GOP will bury him with it. Any politician who just panders to emotions is an idiot (and rarely in office long). What Eleveld needs to do is explain how Obama endorsing same-sex marriage wouldn’t cost him the Presidency in 2012.

  2. Russell says

    The antiwar and African-American civil rights movements encompassed sharply differing approaches as their dialectics evolved. It gives me more confidence in our movement that the same thing is happening.

    Having said that, hell yes we’ve got to win primary and general elections from now to fall of 2012 and turn back the tide of bigots, idiots, and jackasses in public office.

  3. chris says

    enough with the pushing of the agenda without any thought to the ramifications. The GOP is trying to create a marriage wedge issue on the ballots again in 2012 to drive bigots and right wingers to the polls. Let him come to his conclusions in due time. We’ve waited this long…18 months for him to move on his position is going to kill us?….

  4. ralph says

    Sometimes I really feel that gay activists are among the stupidest people on earth. It really is a wonder that anything has been accomplished at all.

  5. JH says

    She has only expressed an opinion – and not weighed the merits of keeping gay marriage from becoming a nasty national wedge issue while it is making steady strides at the state and cultural level. All she has done is express her opinion. There is nothing particularly compelling about what she concludes.
    What is callous is calculated journalists trying to stay relevant.

  6. elg says

    How many states have passed laws saying marriage is between one man and one woman? Many states (including my own) have taken the ADDITIONAL step of changing their STATE CONSTITUTIONS to reflect that marriage is between one man and one woman.

    How will ANY of this change if Obama says ‘I support marriage equality’?

  7. NY2.0 says

    What the hell is wrong with people? Marriage equality is making progress at the state level. IMHO I just don’t see any benefit in the president endorsing same-sex marriage before the next election. People can be so naive about the political process in America. America is very puritanical and quite frankly the voters are very backward with a revulsion for the federal government imposing beliefs on the states.

    Obama voicing support for SSM will in no way influence the opinions of the presently conservative supreme court and will only serve to energize the right.

    If I was Obama or any other politician, I’d stay as far away from people like Kerry Eleveld because they live in their own liberal bubbles and will help you lose an election.

  8. Ted says

    How stupid can we be? It was exactly this approach that cost us the election in 2000. Bush’s razor-thin margin was the result of the marraige movement elevating this issue to one of primacy. Why would anyone put our allies in that position? The marriage movement handed Bush the election by forcing even a few percentage points of the voting populace into the republican column. And so we ended up with Justices Roberts and Alito – both young conservatives who will be on the bench for decades to come. Leave Pres. Obama alone. He’s obviously done everything he can – and we can expect that he’ll do even more – assuming we don’t cost him the election by our own myopic approach. Unless you wan’t to be raising these issues with Pres. Romney, Palin, or Bachmann, take a lesson from 2000 and stop being so aggressive.

  9. Derrick from Philly says

    OK, something bizarre is going on here. The anti-Obama folks must be just waking up, or they just haven’t noticed this discussion yet. They’ll arrive soon with, “HE LIED TO US!!!!”

  10. RWG says

    To add to what I said above, I personally don’t care if Mr. Obama endorses marriage equality or not. I just want DOMA gone. There are lots of places to get married. I only want the US to recognize that marriage as they do all other legal marriages.

    There is no doubt the GOP would use the issue against the President in 2012 if he were to say anymore. Hell, he’s already said and done enough for them to exploit the issue. I’d certainly rather see Mr. Obama re-elected than ANY Republican take over the White House. The treasonous GOP is already destroying the economy for their own political purposes. Many of them should be subject to arrest as Domestic Enemies of the US.

  11. says

    The Obama administration is attempting to walk a very thin line at this point, tossing out code words like “evolving” to give wink-wink hints of what (he’s asking us to trust) will be his position post-2012 election. It may be a good and practical political strategy, and enough to satisfy those who care about the issue, since his Republican opposition in 2012 will clearly be the worse candidate on gay rights. Or it may be weakness of conviction.

    The problem is, Obama’s former public statements on marriage equality (“god is in the mix” etc.) are just plain wrong, and more people are paying attention to that wrongness, particularly after the NY vote, and as support of marriage equality becomes an increasingly mainstream Democratic (and to a much lesser extent, conservative) position. His evasion of the issue while his spokespeople claim his position couldn’t be more clear is transparently political and disingenuous, and the longer that game playing goes on, the easier it will be for supporters and Republicans alike to bust him for it.

    What we can’t do is give him a pass because of the politics. We need to keep pressuring him to be on the right side of history sooner rather than later. He’s a cautious enough (i.e. extremely cautious) politician that he’s not going to budge until he believes it’s time, and if we don’t continue speaking up for equality it casts doubt on the rightness of our demand for civil rights. He may be playing politics, but we shouldn’t have to.

  12. Rowan says

    Eleved is a creep and a republican to boot. She is the biggest attention whore and is trying to get the Democrats to lose next year.

    In every single egotistical piece she has written can anyone link me to her then explaining how the Democrats will win because of this when the GOP bar one or tow condensers are actually using social conservatism to frigging get elected?!

    She is poisonous and is indeed what you call a superstar journalist. Writing for a superstar newspaper.

    She used to write for the Advocate. The Advocate was notoriously anti-Obama and still obsessed with Hilary. The Advocate are the only gay medi to give a legit platform to rabidly racist and GOP lover Michael Lucas as well as GOproud, never EVER questioning their dubious opinions.

    I hope she finally gets called out from the gay groups. Absolute insanity.

    Oh Derrick, they will arrive soon because that is how they survive. Forget what Obama has already done which is more then any other president in their first term and let’s just look at the simple fact that the GOP have made it their platform to call get rid of gays, completely. You would think in their immature and irrational heads that this would be a frigging red flag that apparently, the GOP sees going against everything gay, a winner with the American people, so maybe, just maybe, we should try and get Obama re-elected so he can continue with his damn good work but oh no!

    We made the same mistake with Gordon Brown here. The liberals and their stupid knee-jerk behavior and now we have a government that has been trying to seek our whole national health care!

    _bangs head on table_

  13. says

    If being cagey about gay marriage is an acceptable campaign strategy, then republicans must be total campaign geniuses. Thing is, you do not know what Obama will do after the election. He still has pals in countries where killing gay people is fine sport. He will not want to upset the midde easterners by cozying up to gyas, and once he is eleceted , HE WILL HAVE NO USE FOR US AT ALL – he won’t need our campaign money any more. This is like the woman trying to get a man to leave his wife. Once he gets her in bed, ol’ wifey still has the power and the husband. He will never endorse us.

  14. says

    @Rowan: I’m not specifically talking about Kerry Eleveld here, but it is the responsibility of journalists–whether they’re from The Advocate, The Daily Beast, or whatever–to question the President’s positions on an issue, particularly when there are apparent contradictions in his answers. It’s a journalistic responsibility to analyze a President’s public statements and political motives as the political landscape changes around him. Ultimately, one may not agree with that journalist, or may think their thinking is sloppy, but it doesn’t mean the questions shouldn’t be raised.

    Journalists and constituents have every right to ask the President if he still believes that gay couples should be excluded from civil marriage. Because his past answers have not been rational, and his present answers are evasive. The last thing a journalist or activist should do is withhold an analysis or a reasonable demand (for equality) to give a politician political cover, or because they fear helping Republicans in 2012.

    The President is a big boy. He’s not going to be bullied by the likes of Kerry to change his political strategies or public statements. It’s his job to balance “fierce advocacy” with political realities and to determine how his public statements align with his personal convictions, not ours. (Unless you’re on his payroll.) Our job is demand full equality and stand up for what is right.

  15. Paul R says

    I would much rather have Obama win in 2012 than a Republican. If he endorses marriage equality, that may not happen. Right now it seems inevitable.

    Actually I would even prefer his reelection to having marriage rights for a few years. The Bush years were too dark and upsetting.

  16. says

    What a bunch of sissy, self-hating fags posting here…Eleveld has it exactly right. Obama is nothing more than a calculating politician who ought to be called on his lies and tricks at every turn. After 2012 he’ll endorse marriage equality? Yea, that’s real courage and leadership…my ass. Any self-respecting gay or lesbian will vote Green or stay the hell home rather than vote for Obama…unless and until he embraces full equality for gays and lesbians, and that includes marriage equality.

  17. DanO says

    I’m okay with him saying that it’s a States Rights issue for the moment, but really wish he’d stop there and leave out the “personally, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman” part that he always seems to insist on saying. That one phrase cost us dearly in the Prop 8 election. It was picked up by our opponents in television and radio ads.

  18. Tim says

    Seconding what Jim Kelly said, the president’s own words against marriage equality are being used by our opponents. How often have we heard, “Even President Obama is against ‘gay marriage?'” Not once has Obama spoken against these hate groups or homophobic individuals using his words to support constitutional amendments or other means of stopping equality. He can’t because they ARE his own words and they ARE being used against our community.

    Plus, at my age, I hope I live to see DOMA repealed and to hear my president say “I support full equality for the lgbt community” and mean it.

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