Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce Break Records »« Wingnut the Bearer of Good News

Obama Still Going Both Ways on Equality

In the wake of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Prop 8, Obama’s press secretary was asked about the president’s views on same-sex marriage. To no one’s surprise, he said those views were still “evolving” as they have allegedly been for a couple years now.

President Barack Obama continues to “evolve” on the topic of same-sex marriage, his top spokesman said Tuesday, just hours after a federal appellate court ruled that a state’s ban on such unions is unconstitutional.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the president’s personal stance on same-sex marriage hadn’t changed, but he added “that divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights to same-sex couples is something this president has long opposed.”

Since he first ran for the White House, the president has responded to questions about his stance on LGBT rights by saying that his position on gay marriage is “evolving.” Carney’s remarks provided a slight twist on that vague statement. They also raised the question of how Obama can be proactively opposed to discrimination against same-sex couples but not proactively in favor of marriage equality.

“The president’s position on these issues writ large are well known,” Carney said. “You know his position, where it stands now, on the position of same-sex marriage. I don’t have much to add on that.”

Anyone care to wager that Obama’s views will suddenly stop evolving the moment he’s either reelected or loses the election in November? I have no doubt that Obama privately supports same-sex marriage. And there’s no question that he has done more to support equality for gay people than any other president we’ve ever had. But he’s playing a transparent game with this issue for purely political reasons. That’s why he has always taken this utterly absurd position that he’s in favor of civil unions with full equality, but not same-sex marriage. That position is inherently disingenuous and he knows that. So does everyone else.

Comments

  1. says

    I realize that the ads that show up this page are determined by the content of the text (gay marriage in this case), but why does the “Gay Wedding Rings” ad to the right have to be so homo-erotic? Damn.

  2. Randomfactor says

    Y’know, this may be the first time I’ve ever wished Obama believed instead in “intelligent design” over evolution.

  3. Sadie Morrison says

    Y’know, this may be the first time I’ve ever wished Obama believed instead in “intelligent design” over evolution.

    QFT.

    It’s Obama’s seeming cowardice that has soured me on the guy more than anything else in the past three years. I’ve decided I’ll vote for him again, but it probably won’t be with great enthusiasm this time around.

  4. christophepetroni says

    “. . . it probably won’t be with great enthusiasm this time around.”

    The shine has come off indeed. Still, I will vote for him with enthusiasm in direct proportion to the absurdity of his Republican opponent.

  5. llewelly says

    Is there any actual evidence that a significant number of voters would vote for a president who supported civil unions, but not for a president who supported gay marriage?

  6. Uncle Glenny says

    This is worrisome, since we all know evolution is a hoax.

    I realize that the ads that show up this page are determined by the content of the text (gay marriage in this case), but why does the “Gay Wedding Rings” ad to the right have to be so homo-erotic? Damn.

    Damn indeed. I mostly get stuff directed from sites I’ve visited recently like xian clothing and JC Penney, supplemented by attempts to overturn Roe v Wade. The more pleasant Undergear ads have worn off.

    It’s Obama’s seeming cowardice that has soured me on the guy more than anything else in the past three years.

    I confess I’ve been more concerned (living in my bubble in Massachusetts on disability income) with the erosion of various rights (habeas; the surveillance state business; search & seizure; property confiscation; and the like).

  7. Michael Heath says

    Sadie Morrison:

    It’s Obama’s seeming cowardice that has soured me on the guy more than anything else in the past three years.

    “Seeming” be the operative word which argues you shouldn’t make firmly held conclusions. From my perspective he’s not a coward (though arguably cowardly) on this issue, but instead he’s attempting to win where we have compelling evidence he’s attempting to, and actually winning. However given I’m a loyal supporter of his, others should take note of my bias.

    From an approach stand-point I’m constantly in conflict while appreciating the pragmatism I think we’re observing with Obama’s ‘evolving’ position. On the one hand my optimal candidate is always transparent on his positions, is consistently principled and honest, and makes arguments primarily premised on what experts assert is the optimal approach. However I doubt there’s hardly any voters like me who favor these factors at the expense of supporting candidates like this who take positions which oppose my own. That set is this president, Bill Clinton, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On the other hand I realize life is not fair and few voters think like this, instead supporting a candidate who proves their loyalty to the tribe and panders to their positions rather than being a leader and influencing their tribe to better positions. I see this approach on the left and on the right.

    Currently I only see Gov. Rick Snyder meeting my criteria when it comes to consistently taking transparent principled positions of those politicians I follow. Snyder has pleasantly surprised me from moving more towards positions I favor in this year’s budget relative to where he was last year so I’m increasingly happy I supported him rather than a Democrat none of my liberal friends supported either, they also voted for Snyder. So while Obama is not in general as principled as I would like, on this issue I do think his approach reduces the incoming flak and provides an opportunity to be more aggressive in his second term, which I’m reasonably confident he’ll secure and exploit by leveraging federal power in favor of gay marriage rights – especially when it comes to SCOTUS nominations.

  8. harold says

    Is there any actual evidence that a significant number of voters would vote for a president who supported civil unions, but not for a president who supported gay marriage?

    In the recent past, there was evidence to suggest that.

    http://www.pewforum.org/Gay-Marriage-and-Homosexuality/Majority-Continues-To-Support-Civil-Unions.aspx

    However, public opinion has evolved since 2009.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/03/news/la-pn-pew-same-sex-marriage-20111103

    Obama’s strategy may be very annoying, but the game theory correctness of it is hard to deny.

    The Republican candidate will have to actively campaign against gay marriage.

    If Obama actively campaigns in favor of gay marriage, then he has the advantage in areas where support for it is strong, the Republican has the advantage in areas where opposition is strong, and it is hard to say exactly who has the advantage in in-between areas.

    On the other hand, since Obama is already massively in the lead among voters who favor gay marriage, relative to the Republican candidate, he loses nothing by positioning himself as “merely the guy who doesn’t distastefully keep bringing up anti-gay marriage stuff”.

    When it becomes “guy who rants against gay marriage versus guy who doesn’t”, Obama gains a potential advantage everywhere except in backwards regions where opposition to gay marriage is strong and overt.

    I am NOT justifying this strategy on an ethical level, but I think this is more or less why Obama equivocates.

  9. Azkyroth says

    but why does the “Gay Wedding Rings” ad to the right have to be so homo-erotic?

    Unless your objection is that it overemphasizes the sexual aspect of gay relationships to the exclusion of other elements…

    …what?

  10. Scott Hanley says

    Obama is doing exactly the right thing: the nation as a whole is moving towards equality and he’s not getting himself in the way. It may not look heroic, but it’s the right strategy for cementing a huge social change.

    What can happen if Obama takes a strong stand on SSM? Its opponents get a point of attack to rally against, the way that abortion foes have long used Roe v. Wade. Currently they are off balance and demoralized by the various court cases and legislative actions occurring at the state level and, as much as they rail against arrogant judges, it loses force when it’s happening all over the country. Why let them concentrate their fire on Obama when right now they hardly know where to concentrate?

    Opposition to SSM is softening among the general public, some of whom don’t like Obama. What good can happen if Obama becomes identified with SSM and opposition to one means opposition to the other?

    SSM doesn’t need Obama, so the most useful thing he can do is to stay out of the issue as much as he can. It’s the pragmatic and strategic thing to do.

  11. Scott Hanley says

    I meant to add that, in this respect, Obama compares very favorably with the likes of a Newt Gingrich, who has to put himself at the head of whatever issue motivates the base, just to make sure it’s all about him.

  12. dinamalar says

    I think it will keep evolve until he get reelected. Wow, looks like reelection is more important than principle and ideas.

  13. Who Knows? says

    President Obama’s support in getting DADT repealed came as a great surprise to me. It is an issue that I consider very important and I was very disappointed when he seemed to be backing away from the issue early in his term, thinking the issue was dead in the water.

    I have no idea what his motivations were in at first, backing away, and then finally supporting it but I tend to believe there was some kind of political calculation involved. Marriage equality must be like a mine field for the President to navigate and given his success with DADT I’m going to have to defer to President Obama’s judgment in how he should approach the issue.

  14. Makoto says

    Well, let’s think about it…

    Maybe it’s not his honest position. Is this disappointing? Yes. I’d far prefer he would be honest about his views. Is it realistic, considering what he’s facing? Absolutely. Look at how his opponents respond to relatively minor things (see birth control, already set by the majority of states) – they throw an absolute crazy fest.

    Maybe it is his honest position. Okay, hopefully he can “evolve” faster, but I can accept that not everyone starts off accepting marriage equality like I did.

    In either case – I can see why he’s in the position he’s in. In either case, I wish he would “evolve” faster, but I can see why he isn’t.

    I hope that WA’s new law will encourage him to either really evolve or show he’s evolving in political terms, either way. But I have to admit, at the moment my letters to him are mostly about the recent contraception rule / compromise. That’s because I see it as the issue of the moment from his opponents, and I can see why he might want to finalize it before opening up another war front. I know, that’s accommodationist, so sue me. I feel it’s also realist, given what is going on in the country.

  15. D. C. Sessions says

    Wow, looks like reelection is more important than principle and ideas.

    And at some point it is: if he doesn’t get elected, the people setting the agenda are going to be a whole lot worse.

    That’s a calculation that one part of me despises, but in the end politics is always about compromise. Or, as the maxim goes, “politics is the art of the possible.”

    LBJ was an asswipe who went to his grave lonely and personally disliked by just about everyone. He screwed the pooch trying to play tin soldiers with real people and got too damn many of us killed (including some of my classmates.) But, damn, that bastard could work Congress like nobody else. If it weren’t for that SOB we’d still be waiting for Medicare, equal voting rights, and a whole host of things that would never so much as gotten a vote if anyone else had been ramrodding the drive.

    These times called for FDR, and Barack Hussein Obama is no FDR. But I’d feel a lot better if he could conjure up te ghost of LBJ to advise him.

    So here’s a toast to the calculating bastards and LBJ in particular. Given the chance I’d piss on his grave, but I’d drink to him first.

  16. Michael Heath says

    Who knows writes:

    President Obama’s support in getting DADT repealed came as a great surprise to me. It is an issue that I consider very important and I was very disappointed when he seemed to be backing away from the issue early in his term

    President Obama never backed away from DADT. He patiently and confidently played a winning hand. That was to get the military to advise Congress to repeal DADT, which they predominately did. This process was absolutely the smart approach because it both exploited a conservative weakness – their inability to question military leaders, and we knew advance what the results would be given most young people aren’t bigots regarding gays. I don’t make this assertion in mere hindsight, but continually argued this was the right way from as soon he made the decision to commission the study and have it presented to the appropriate Senate Committee chaired by Sen. Carl Levin.

    And Scott Hanley summarizes my thoughts perfectly in his above post, though more articulately than I can muster.

  17. echidna says

    During the Obama’s initial campaign, I came across the speeches of Abraham Lincoln as he was debating slavery with someone whose name eludes me. It was really obvious that Lincoln was himself far more progressive than he allowed in his stated policies; that’s not speculation, he actually says exactly that. It is also clear that he is playing the long game, and fully expects slave owners to react violently. It’s also clear that he didn’t really expect to live long.

    Obama has repeatedly said he draws inspiration from Lincoln. It is not surprising to me in the slightest that he is playing the long game.

  18. says

    “I am NOT justifying this strategy on an ethical level, but I think this is more or less why Obama equivocates.”

    I think it’s perfectly justifiable. The old cliche, “politics is the art of the possible” applies here. The first thing Obama must do is win reelection. If he screws that up, nothing else matters, and we’ll have a Republican president opposed to marriage equality who will appoint right-wing judges. Equality advocates might be annoyed with his coyness, but assuming it’s his best reelection strategy, it’s in their interest.

  19. bnerd says

    I think a lot of people are putting too much stock into the “If a Republican gets elected, all that progress we’ve made on equality would get rolled back” argument. Granted, I’d preferably not like to see (another) anti-gay Republican in the White House, but it’s not like they can just wave their little Presidential wand and command that Equality for LGBT community be rolled back; they need a willing majority in the House and Senate to do that. And frankly, that’s not likely.

    Having said that, I’m a little iffy on Obama’s insistence that he’s “evolving.” I think it’s pretty obvious he’s doing this because he wants to get re-elected and thinks he’ll have a better chance of that if he doesn’t take a stance on marriage equality. But I think he, like so many others, is putting WAY too much stock into the extent to which the American public knows much (if anything) about a Presidents personal stance on any issue. I know this has probably been said a billion times, but the thing that matters most (note: not the *only* thing) is the state of the economy. If it’s perceived as good, Obama has a much better chance of getting re-elected than if it’s not. Few people outside the politically active (who make up a very small percentage of Americans) will pay any attention to his platform, agenda and stances on the issues. If there’s anything Americans are notorious for, it’s either being misinformed or (more appropriately) horridly uninformed. Therefore, I’m not sure that I can actually buy the idea that if he came out in favor of marriage equality that he’d lose votes. There’s no evidence to suggest that.

  20. Azkyroth says

    I think a lot of people are putting too much stock into the “If a Republican gets elected, all that progress we’ve made on equality would get rolled back” argument. Granted, I’d preferably not like to see (another) anti-gay Republican in the White House, but it’s not like they can just wave their little Presidential wand and command that Equality for LGBT community be rolled back; they need a willing majority in the House and Senate to do that. And frankly, that’s not likely.

    If one of the current crop of Repugs gets elected they’ll likely wind up either reinstating slavery or picking a nuclear war. Are you out of your mind?

  21. Midnight Rambler says

    but it’s not like they can just wave their little Presidential wand and command that Equality for LGBT community be rolled back; they need a willing majority in the House and Senate to do that. And frankly, that’s not likely.

    They already have a majority in the House, and there’s a good chance they’ll take a majority in the Senate this year. Granted they’d have to get over a filibuster, but Dems aren’t very good in that regard. Want to take the chance?

  22. Midnight Rambler says

    During the Obama’s initial campaign, I came across the speeches of Abraham Lincoln as he was debating slavery with someone whose name eludes me. It was really obvious that Lincoln was himself far more progressive than he allowed in his stated policies; that’s not speculation, he actually says exactly that.

    Bear in mind, too, that Lincoln didn’t free a single slave with the Emancipation Proclamation. I guess that was just cowardice?

  23. I'm_not says

    Azkyroth says:
    February 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm
    Let’s buy Michelle a strap-on and see if she can persuade him…

    …what?

    I know, beautiful isn’t it and yet so simple. Perhaps there should be a ceremonial strap-on for such occasions.

  24. gvlgeologist says

    @D. C. Sessions #19:

    One of the things that I remember reading, much later, about LBJ is that he did in fact want to get out of Vietnam but thought conservatives would rake him over the coals if he showed “weakness”.

    Whether pragmatic or not, I’m pretty goddammed tired of people on the left being so terrified of offending those on the right. It’s offensive to our allies and the right currently isn’t interested in compromise, just defeating the left. Certainly the current crop of Repubs doesn’t seem to give a crap about whether they offend the left.

  25. Azkyroth says

    Azkyroth says:
    February 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Let’s buy Michelle a strap-on and see if she can persuade him…

    …what?

    I know, beautiful isn’t it and yet so simple. Perhaps there should be a ceremonial strap-on for such occasions.

    Number 1: include blockquotes when you’re quoting someone, you dishonest asshole. We both know I didn’t say that, I was quoting you.

    Number 2: What the fuck point were you trying to make?

  26. I'm_not says

    Azkyroth says:
    February 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Let’s buy Michelle a strap-on and see if she can persuade him…

    …what?

    I know, beautiful isn’t it and yet so simple. Perhaps there should be a ceremonial strap-on for such occasions.

    Number 1: include blockquotes when you’re quoting someone, you dishonest asshole. We both know I didn’t say that, I was quoting you.

    Number 2: What the fuck point were you trying to make?

    I don’t know whether to be flattered or offended that you’ve decided I was being mendacious rather than incompetent when it comes to using blockquotes (I think it’s worked this time).

    My point was the whole debate hinges on defining homosexuality in the very narrow way of sexual practices, not as a form of love. Once that hurdle is overcome there is no debate, it’s obvious gay marriage is just marriage. Explaining a “joke” is never good and tends to kill both the humour and the point the joke is trying to make but if Barack was being bent over by Michelle it wouldn’t invalidate their marriage would it? was kind of the point.

  27. I'm_not says

    Midnight Rambler says:
    February 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm
    I’m_not – you seem to be grossly incompetent at both humor and html.

    And I’m sure many other things.

  28. I'm_not says

    Michael Heath says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    I’m not,

    Preview is our friend.

    Thankyou, I’m trying to get the hang of it.

  29. I'm_not says

    Midnight Rambler says:
    February 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm
    I’m_not – you seem to be grossly incompetent at both humor and html.

    oh if only I could be more like you. Really. Kiss Kiss.

  30. bnerd says

    If one of the current crop of Repugs gets elected they’ll likely wind up either reinstating slavery or picking a nuclear war. Are you out of your mind?

    Wow. Hyperbole much? Since those happened under previous Republican Presidents…..

    They already have a majority in the House, and there’s a good chance they’ll take a majority in the Senate this year. Granted they’d have to get over a filibuster, but Dems aren’t very good in that regard. Want to take the chance?

    I said it wasn’t likely, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But given the hurdles they’d have to jump over to roll back equality (like a “traditional marriage amendment”) I don’t think their chances are all that great.

Leave a Reply