February 14, 2004
When I heard last week that Obama isn't backing gay marriage, I honestly was pretty disappointed. Especially with the rationale that was given in this article:
State Sen. Barack Obama of Chicago said he backs civil unions but does not support same-sex marriage and does not believe government recognition of gay marriage "is practical at the federal level because of strong political and religious resistance."
Certainly, Obama is in a tight spot here because one of his strongest constituencies is the church-going African-American community, but nevertheless I thought this was an issue that he should take a principled stand on. Especially, given that a strong argument can be made to this community that the gay marriage issue parallels the struggles of civil rights movement. So the fact that he punted on this one was I think a missed opportunity.
But from the Eight Forty-Eight interview yesterday I heard a much more nuanced and acceptable rationale for his position. He explained that backing gay marriage was not something that he should go out on a limb for because it was up to the gay community to decide their strategy on this issue. There's a split in the gay community in which one side wants to avoid playing "into the hands of Karl Rove" by pushing this issue on the public and thereby giving the right control of the debate.
That explanation makes more sense to me, but I'm still not convinced that gay marriage is a loser only for the Dems. Pushing this issue definitely will alienate the center of the Dem party, but it fairs no better for the right if they have to counter with an amendment. Messing with the constitution will piss off as many on the right as it will please. Basically, I think this is a lose lose issue for both parties. They cancel each other out, so why not go out on a limb and support gay marriage now? I guess it's because his thinking is centered on pacifying his constituency for the primary. Nevertheless, as I said above, I think he could sell this to the chuck-goers. If anyone has any other links of Obama speaking about this issue send them over. (Hat tip goes to Brent for helping me think this through).