On Wednesday, I argued that the national excitement over Obama's support for gay marriage was overblown. A recent Gawker article pointed out that the ABC news coverage made it clear that the President still believes gay marriage should be a state-by-state issue.
Assuming this is true, I have even less respect for President Obama's announcement than I did on Wednesday. Civil rights are not a state-by-state issue. This is, largely, the point of our Constitution: to protect the rights of those who are not the majority; to make sure that unpopular beliefs aren't treated less fairly than those held by the majority.
It absolutely frosts me that even Democratic politicians can get away with saying that states should decide gay rights. Really? Just like states should be able to decide whether women can vote? Just like states should be able to decide whether blacks can marry whites? Just like states should be able to decide whether it's okay to fire someone for being in a wheelchair? No. Because states don't have the right to decide any of those things.
The title of this entry is inflammatory, and deliberately so. Where the U.S. Constitution grants rights that a state does not, the U.S. Constitution supersedes the state law. This is keystone of the way American government is set up: to protect the rights of the few against the preferences and biases of the many. Not to put something as fundamental as a civil right up for a popular vote.
Civil rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution. And President Obama swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Putting our rights up for a state-by-state decision shows little respect for equal rights--and little respect for us as Americans.