UPDATE: I’ve changed the title of this blog post and posted the update up top in light of breaking news: Obama just announced that he favors same-sex marriage.
Good. I mean, I’m glad the stakes are more clear now, and there’s no pussyfooting around the issue.
In light of the news, what follows below, from earlier today, is no longer valid. I’m going to leave it, though.
Who believes Barack Obama really opposes gay marriage? Anybody? Bueller?
Of course Obama is officially against same-sex marriage, but nobody with a lick of sense believes that this is true. I think the recent public statements of Joe Biden and Arne Duncan favoring same-sex marriage is the president’s way of signaling to people where his heart lies without taking endorsing SSM. Ross Douthat has a good post about the moral cowardice of this position. Even though half the country now supports SSM (according to the latest Gallup poll), Obama still won’t get behind it, because it’s politically risky. Excerpt:
But to say that the president’s approach is understandable does not mean that it’s necessarily defensible. Supporters of same-sex marriage have worked very hard to frame their issue, not as an ordinary political conflict, but as an all-or-nothing question that pits enlightenment and progress against reaction, bigotry and hate. I don’t accept that framing, but I accept that its architects genuinely believe in it, and see the conflict over same-sex unions as a clear-cut struggle between good and evil, with no possibility of middle ground.
If same-sex marriage isn’t an issue where people can disagree in good faith, though, then the president’s evasions and obfuscations can’t be treated as ordinary political maneuverings, and excused as just so much politics-as-usual. If the debate is as black and white as many supporters of same-sex marriage argue, then they should be much harder on political leaders who pretend that it’s a gray area.
Indeed, if you accept the framing of the debate that many liberals (and many journalists) embrace, then you have to acknowledge that President Obama has spent the last four years lying to the American people about his convictions on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, and giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry in the service of his other political priorities.
Ross wants to know if liberals and journalists who do accept that to oppose SSM can only be understood as bigotry will publicly hold the president to the same standards to which they hold social and religious conservatives. Indeed, to refuse to do that for the sake of political expediency would mean sharing in the same hypocrisy, would it not?