While asking wealthy New York gays for their money at a fundraiser Thursday, the president gave a big thumbs-up to the state’s lawmakers who are toiling to legalize gay marriage. He failed to mention, however, that he still opposes gay marriage.
In fact, he never used the term gay marriage, according to The Associated Press. He did praise those state legislators for showing what democracy can do and he said, “I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country.”
But by all accounts, his thinking on gay marriage is still “evolving,” which is to say he’s still against it for the most part.
Clearly Obama staked out a position in 2004 that made a lot of political sense at the time, only to see the country move much faster in the direction of gay rights than most politicians anticipated. Now he’s stuck trying to explain to his gay supporters why he is worthy of their support.
He did that Thursday by praising lawmakers with more courage than he and by touting his achievements on behalf of the gay community, such as the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Repeal is too generous a word. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” remains in effect, despite the president’s having spiked the football on that issue. A 2010 bill allows for the policy’s demise, but “don’t ask” will remain in effect until 60 days after the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree to end it.
According to the AP, the promise of “don’t ask, don’t tell” ending was enough to put the “well-heeled gay community” (yay stereotypes!) in the pocket of a president who’s confident of the gay vote because of that group’s lack of a strong political alternative. Obama may also be concerned about losing the votes of so-called moderates, which is a strange way of describing people who are intolerant of their gay neighbors.
Obama loves a compromise, and his administration has been characterized by attempts to spread the love around, but that shouldn’t work where human rights are concerned. Passing pro-gay legislation and recording a video for the It Gets Better project doesn’t remove the stain of opposing gay marriage and, in doing so, failing to consider same-sex couples fully American with all the bells and whistles. —PZS
AP via NPR:
Obama told of receiving a letter last year from a teenager in a small town. He said the boy was a senior in high school who was gay and was afraid to come out. The boy wondered to the president why gays shouldn’t be equal like everyone else.
“So, yes, we have more work to do,” Obama said. “Yes, we have more progress to make. Yes, I expect continued impatience with me on occasion.”
He said teenagers such as the one who wrote to him “remind me that there should be impatience when it comes to the fight for basic equality. We’ve made enormous advances just in these last two and half years. But there’s still young people out there looking for us to do more.”
White House / Pete Souza