“It’s indicative of the rather sour tone that the 2012 election has taken that gay rights advocates can’t even greet the president’s affirmation of marriage equality with unequivocal glee. Mainly because Obama’s affirmation was not exactly unequivocal.
It was more cautious than anything he’s said about Osama bin Laden, for example. He’s “just concluded” that it’s “personally important” for him to “affirm” the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The statement is less an endorsement of that most intimate human right than it is a narrowing of the wide margin of wiggle-room he claimed on the issue beforehand. He has said previously that his position was “evolving”; truth be told, the movement could benefit from the development opposable thumbs. By keeping his position “personal”, Obama escapes attaching himself to particular language in legislation – or to any legislation at all, really.
This also means that LGBT voters can’t necessarily expect the Democrats to put marriage equality in their convention platform. Most, er, personally disappointing – and as put by a colleague on Twitter – is that his slow slide toward justice makes his previous position(s) look all the more craven.
The best news in all this – besides the president finally bending to the leadership of VP Joe Biden – is that the GOP’s response has, thus far, been leaden-footed, ham-fisted and thick-skulled. As far as I can yet tell, they’re choosing to spin the change in position as somehow taking away from Obama’s attention on the economy. (For what it’s worth, the weakness of his endorsement suggests that he’s not going to spending a lot of time taking about gay marriage.) Also, they say, he is “further dividing the country”.
That is demonstrably untrue: the country is already divided, but on this, we are coming together. Which is, after all, the point about marriage rights.”