First, let's get three things out of the way. (1) I voted for President Obama, and expect to do so again; (2) It is awesome that, for the first time in US history, a sitting president has announced his support for gay marriage; (3) This may be an important step toward building a national consensus.
Still, I felt more annoyed than excited about the President's announcement today. Some sources have portrayed this as an "edgy" or potentially divisive move (as has Obama himself). The President also stated: "I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted..." As if, after wrestling with the facts, he has finally evolved into a supporter.
I say: bullshit. Like any self-respecting Constitutional law professor and civil rights advocate, Obama supported gay marriage before he became a presidential candidate. Then, once he decided to run, he eschewed these privately-held beliefs. Not coincidentally, the polls at that time showed that a majority of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, too. More recently, the political balance tipped, and a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Then--voila--after testing the waters with VP Biden's announcement yesterday, President Obama suddenly comes out supporting same-sex marriage, too?
The President's open support of same-sex marriage is wonderful, but let's be honest: if most Americans had supported gay marriage in 2008, he would have supported it back then. And if public support hadn't grown, he wouldn't have come out in favor of it now. President Obama is, foremost, a politician. If we pretend that we're that much more to him than another issue, another constituency, another factor in the political calculus, we're kidding ourselves.
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