Calling it "about the most cynical gesture you can imagine from an allegedly liberal leader," Richard Just, executive editor of The New Republic, slams Obama's position on gay marriage and the message it sends: that "(Obama) knows a lot of people still aren’t completely comfortable admitting gays and lesbians as full participants in American life, and that this is OK because he isn’t either. "
Discussed in relation to President Woodrow Wilson's position on women's suffrage, Just writes:
Obama argues that he is against gay marriage while also opposing efforts like Prop 8 that would ban it. He justifies this by saying that state constitutions should not be used to reduce rights. (His exact words: “I am not in favor of gay marriage, but when you’re playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that that is not what America is about.”)
Obama appears to be saying that it is fine to prohibit gay people from getting married, as long as the vehicle for doing so is not a constitution. Presumably, then, he supports the numerous states that have banned same-sex marriage through other means, without resorting to a constitutional amendment? If so, he might be the only person in the country to occupy this narrow, and frankly absurd, slice of intellectual terrain. Obama has also said he favors civil unions rather than gay marriage because the question of where and how to apply the label “marriage” is a religious one. This argument makes even less sense than his stance on state constitutions, since marriage, for better or for worse, is very much a government matter.
Obama and those around him seem unaware that all of this is a problem; a look at some of the lessons from Wilson’s experience might help to clarify why they ought to reconsider. The first lesson is that history does not look kindly on this type of presidential conduct.
Wilson goes on to note that Obama is running out of time to be on the right side of history, and that he's setting a horrible example for the rest of the world.
"Obama has said that he wants to restore American moral leadership in the world. But how can he claim the mantle of moral leadership when we are being outpaced by so many countries and so many foreign leaders on one of the central civil rights issues of our time?"