Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Underwhelmed on Obama's same-sex marriage announcement

President Obama has finally publicly declared he thinks same-sex marriage is okay (Michael Memoli, In interview, Obama explains his evolution on gay marriage Los Angeles Times 05/09/2012): "'At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,' he concluded."

It helps that Obama made this statement and I'm glad to see him do it.

But I've gotten to the point where every time Obama says something that sounds good to the base, I start holding my breath for the other (conservative) shoe to drop. Because he tends to make rhetorical gestures like this, which actually might help some in getting the base out to vote. But it's "safe" for him in that the Democratic base already accepts the idea, and the people who don't are people unlikely to even consider voting for him. But the "other shoe" tends to be more substantive, like the "JOBS" bill he signed that essentially rolls back much of the Sarbannes-Oxley protections and makes securities fraud more likely.

And, honestly, if he were going to announce this today, why not do it a few days ago so that it might have some effect on the North Carolina vote on an anti-same-sex-marriage, anti-civil unions constitutional amendment?

Sarah Posner found it positive that Obama expressly framed his new position in religious terms, "Obama didn't just endorse same-sex marriage today. He abandoned conservative religious rhetoric about it and signaled that religious conservatives, even his close religious advisors [sic], don't own the conversation on what Christianity has to say about marriage." (Obama Says His Faith Informed His Support for Gay Marriage Religion Dispatches 05/09/2012)

What she was referring to was this statement by the President. From the LA Times report:

Obama said his wife shares his view now, and he spoke of how they reconciled it with their faith.

"We are both practicing Christians, and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated," he said. "I think that's what we try to impart to our kids, and that's what motivates me as president, and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president."
Digby expresses a careful optimism about the statement:

I don't know that this has any bearing on policy unless the next congress is overwhelmingly liberal and passes a federal gay marriage bill. Certainly, the president cannot unilaterally legalize gay marriage and our system does allow states to make their laws. ...

Hopefully the president's leadership on this will help change some people's minds. But until all 31 state constitutional amendments are either repealed or the Supreme Court declares them unconstitutional, we'll be living in a nation in which some marriages are legal in some places and illegal in others. Here's hoping that situation ends a little bit sooner as a result of the president's words today.
We'll see if there's another shoe connection to this in the next couple of weeks.

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