Proof Of Evolution
Memo to Barack Obama: GOOD... BUT.
There's no not talking about this one, is there? The President of the United States just came out in support of marriage equality in an ABC interview. His evolution is complete. Obama is now a third stage Pokemon of gay marriage, I guess.
This is good. I don't want you to think this isn't good. There probably hasn't been a more thematically accurate use of the phrase "bully pulpit" in recent history. It's the right thing to do, and it should help boost Obama's stature with some of his key constituencies, and gay marriage's statute with some of his other key constituencies.
If Obama can put the huge caveat he put in his support, then I can put a huge caveat in my appreciation of his support. I can't find any transcripts as of the time of writing, but here's one of the paraphrases:
"The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own."
Well, thirty states have decided the issue on their own and told gay couples to go to hell. A few more, including my own, have constitutional amendments on the ballot. Tuesday night, North Carolina put marriage inequality into its constitution. So he supports it, but he's not going to do any more about it.
And the timing on this is really weird. Apparently they were going to sit on this until September, before the Democratic convention. But then Joe Biden went and said he was fine with gay marriage, and then the administration started walking it back, and that looked completely fucking awful, so they decided to announce the results of Obama's "evolution" nearly four months early.
Either way, they were going to be taking this hit before the election, apparently, which is frankly something I wasn't expecting. So why wait until September? Hell, why wait until now? As much as it pains me to say it, the Log Cabin Republicans sort of have a point. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous. Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch." - R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans.
Now, it's not a perfect point. It's maybe a four out of ten, but if we didn't grade the Log Cabin Republicans on a curve, they'd have flunked out ten years ago. I mean, if Cooper is that concerned about anti-gay people putting anti-gay constitutional amendments on the ballot in anti-gay states, he should probably fucking well stop working to elect them.
But there's a nugget of truth in what he said nonetheless. I don't think Obama could have turned the tide in North Carolina, but it wouldn't have hurt, and even a narrower margin might have helped the overall cause. I think it's a stretch to say that people will be angry about it, but that's because, in the final calculus, the rush from the support outweighs the weirdness of the timing. But the timing is still weird.
Is it calculated? Yes. A bit cynical? Fuck yes. Would they have done it if they thought they were going to get badly hurt by it? Hell no. So this wasn't particularly courageous, and we shouldn't treat it as such.
On the other hand, Barack Obama has finally come out in favor of a properly progressive, liberal idea, and put the weight of the presidency behind it, when he knows that the vast majority of the people who are going to be angry at his support were never going to vote for him, no matter what. And that's something we've seen all too little of in the past three years.