Painted into a corner by Joe Biden's explicit support of gay marriage Sunday, and facing pressure from gay donors, who are regarded by his campaign as a rich source of funds, President Obama gave an interview to ABC News in which he embraced gay marriage, but promised no specific actions. Good Morning America:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, 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," Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday. Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer."
The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. But he said he's confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters' comfort with the concept.
"It's interesting, some of this is also generational," the president continued. "You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective."
The big fear all along has been the reaction of black pastors and congregations, where gay marriage is not a popular cause. Obama desperately needs black turnout to equal 2008's record levels, and had not wanted to do anything that would diminish enthusiasm.
His sudden embrace of federalism, allowing states to decide on their own is a pathetic excuse to avoid taking action. David Harsanyi in Human Events:
If Obama has endorsed federalism and believes that states have the right to define marriage, then why doesn't he support the ability of states to extricate themselves from Obamacare? Why don't states have the right to dictate their immigration laws? And does he "personally" believe that states should be able decide the issue of abortion? Roe v. Wade exists, but so does the Defense of Marriage Act.
We might find a clue to his thinking in this 2009 the New York Times piece, "Obama Seems to Be Open to a Broader Role for States." In it we learn of a new theory called "progressive federalism." This is how it works: the president allows "California and other states to set their own limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks" because, presumably, he agrees with the policies that are being implemented and there is no political price to pay. But when your state passes an immigration law that the administration disapproves of, well, the Justice Department sues. Progressive federalism.
This is far from over. There are plenty of people in the militant gay rights community who are not fond of half a loaf support. And I ahve to wonder what a lot of black pastors are thinking today.