Family/Marriage

When followers lead, the leaders will follow: Obama supports gay marriage

Here’s what I wrote last night:

On the other side of the fence, those of us who genuinely care about freedom and fairness are more outraged than ever. Outrage is motivating, and by the way, polls show that at least half of Americans support equality for LGBT citizens. It’s about six months until Election Day – how much mobilizing do you think we’re capable of?

Obama may or may not want the issue to go away, but from where I sit the religious right has today handed him a very large stick. Here’s hoping he has the courage and insight to use it on them. And let’s make sure that we, the people, make him embrace this, the most crucial civil rights issue of our generation.

Today, as if on cue, the president stepped up to the plate, big stick in hand.

“I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts. “At a certain point, I just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same sex couples should be able to get married.”

It seems evident to anyone who has been paying attention over the past three and a half years that Barack Obama is ill at ease in the presence of LGBT issues (among others). If he had any stomach for stepping out in front of this particular civil rights battle, he’d have done so long before now. All along, I’ve heard his supporters arguing that he was playing realpolitik, acknowledging realities, forging incremental victories and in general, doing all that was possible at a given moment under a given set of circumstances. I have not always received such assertions charitably.

Yesterday, a significant voting majority in my home state of North Carolina threw down the gauntlet. Today, our leader picked it up, illustrating what very bright people have been saying for a long time: if the followers lead, the leaders will follow. A majority of Americans support unconditional equal rights for gays and they have found it harder by the day to support, with their wallets and their energy, a man who doesn’t share their passion for basic civil justice.

As I said last night, losing on Amendment One was a temporary setback, the lost battle that sparks us to win the war. Today, thanks to the passion and the righteous outrage of so many millions of Americans, Mr. Obama has finally accepted that to lead, he must follow the will of the people and stand for what is right.

Make no mistake. May 8 was a dark day for civil rights in North Carolina, but May 9 marks one of our biggest victories yet. It’s now up to us to lead the president to more important realizations.

If we do, we’ll win big in November and his second term may well deliver on the hope everyone voted for in 2008.

8 replies »

  1. The Christian right must be going nuts, on one side you have a “Muslim” president who supports gay marriage, and on the other side you have a “not our brand of Christian” who’s particular brand of Christianity doesn’t have the best rap when it comes to marriage. I’m getting my pop corn ready..

  2. You know, I’m as disappointed in Obama as the next guy–there are any number of issues that he has been entirely too weak on for my taste. But I’m with Sam on this– Glenn Greenwald too–let’s give credit where credit is due. Obama has just opened himself up to six months (at least) of campaigning by the other side about his “War on Marriage ™”, to go along with his “War on Religion ™”, and the mindless clamor from the other side is only going to escalate after this. Obama, who if nothing else is still a pretty good player of the political game, has to understand this. As he understands, I think, that whatever the reality of how weak or strong his statement was, the optics are what will dominate. The optics are that Obama supports gay marriage, pure and simple. And however much we may quibble about what that actually means, to most of the American population, it’s pretty straightforward, one way or the other.

    And the optics will be used against him, very aggressively. It’s already started. He had to have known that as well.

  3. I’m all for giving credit where it’s due. I give our president credit for, yet again, style over substance. Once again, he gives the appearance of acting once backed into a corner.

    What gets me is how the story gets so much play with all the right quotes from the clips released yesterday with the mention that, according to ABC news, he still thinks it’s a states’ rights issue.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone here is drinking the Kool-Aid, but a lot of folks are. I’ve resigned myself to that state of affairs. What’s worse is that the Kool-Aid drinkers, enjoying the artificial grape taste as they do, keep trying to peddle it as actual grapes. To that I’m not resigned. 2012 might be a wash, but the bar for 2016 needs to be raised high starting now if we expect to do any better then.

    • Frank: To put this simply, I agree with everything you’re saying. But I don’t think it contradicts what I’m saying. And I think that yesterday’s “epiphany” DOES raise the bar for 2016. Even though he’s guilty of what you say, the optics issue that Wuf talks about is critical with an electorate as…uncritical as ours. Even though he was playing some subtle games re: states rights bullshit, it was still a watershed.

      Whether he’s all-in on the policy details or not, both the idiots on the right and the progressive base will make sure that from this day forward he OWNS gay marriage. He’s now the Gay Marriage President.

  4. Sam: I definitely agree with your assessment there. I certainly hope I didn’t come across as unduly harsh (I reserve that for others). At the same time, I seem to have taken it as my personal mission to run around shouting, “Soylent Green is people!” 🙂

    My first/best hope for our new Gay Marriage President (hallelujah!) is that he reconsiders his recent LGBT debacle and uses his executive pen to force contractors to not discriminate. Now that he’s found his yarbles he needs some matching teeth.

  5. It was all BS, every part of it! Obama supported gay marriage as a state senator, abandoned it when politically expediate to do so running for US senate and then President, now he embraces it again since polls show most Americans aren’t worried about this. Oh, did I also mention he happened to have a Hollywood fundraiser tonight? Lots of extra cash from the gay marriage change and his “historic” and “brave” stance! LOL

    Obama raised $1 million online in the first 90 minutes after he announced his “evolution!” So apparently evolution takes a million years or a million dollars…who knew?

    Oh, and Obama wants to have it both ways too! He won’t push for a Gay Marriage plank in the Democratic Platform and thinks it is a state issue! Which…if it is a states rights issue as he contends, clearly this ISN’T a civil rights issue! lol But oh wait…he may evolve again! Quick send him another million dollars!

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