Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Milquetoast Evolution

The day after voters of North Carolina approved an amendment (Amendment 1) which bans same sex marriage, civil unions and some protections for single mothers, the headlines blasted that President Obama supports gay marriage.  My fellow gays, lesbians and our allies cheered with gleeful abandon.  Conservatives had a conniption fit.  All but a few on both sides act as if President Obama came out in full, unequivocal support of marriage equality.

But, in true Milquetoast President fashion, President Obama gave only qualified support for same sex marriage.  Instead of saying, “I personally support the right of same sex couples to marry and I believe the U.S. Constitution does as well”, he said this:

“At a certain point, I've just concluded that-- for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that-- I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. Now-- I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue.

… And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage.”

In other words, our Milquetoast President has evolved enough to support same sex marriage, but thinks it is a state’s rights issue and not a civil rights issue.  He doesn’t think that this should be a national issue, but a local and state issue.  This is how the President operates.  He can’t be for something 100%, he has to try and split his support to try and appease everyone.  He could have come out in support of gay marriage before the voters of North Carolina went to the polls, but he didn’t, he waited until the day after and the results were negative.  That’s not leadership, that’s cowardice.

I understand that as President, one has to make compromises on some issues, such as the budget, national security and such.  When it comes to civil rights though, compromise is not an option.  You are either for or against.  There is no fence sitting, as President Obama was previously doing, and there is no attempt to create “separate but equal” constructs such as “civil unions” which leaves a segment of the population as second class citizens.

I understand the desire by my fellow gays and lesbians around the nation and our allies to stand and cheer the President’s “support” of gay marriage.  It’s the desire to believe that the most powerful man in the world supports our equality.  That desire, though, blinds them to the realities of our Milquetoast President and one of those realities is that President Obama will pander just as much as Mr. Romney in order to be reelected.

I thank the President for his evolution in regards to same marriage equality, I just wish it wasn’t such a milquetoast evolution.


The full transcript and video of President Obama’s interview can be found here.

For further reading, please check out Lyle Denniston’s write up on SCOTUSBlog.

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