Irradiated by LabRat
So President Obama has gone ahead and come out in support of same-sex marriage.
One would think I’d be pleased about this, since I’m also in favor, but I’m not especially. I AM pleased that it is possible to have a sitting President who is in favor, and view that as positive progress.
You could characterize my overall lack of other forms of pleasedness as personal distaste for Obama, which is probably not entirely untrue, but I note that a lot of same-sex marriage advocates have had pretty much exactly the same reaction as I have: that this is a nakedly opportunistic political calculation in an election year, and not a statement of intent or meaningful support.
Basically, it goes like this: liberals saw him as tepid in his support of gay rights, conservatives saw him as secretly supporting gay marriage no matter what he said, and moderates saw him as a waffler. He had nothing left politically to gain from maintaining a pretense of opposing it, and the political math was better to look like he was taking a firm position of some kind given that the people who’d be legitimately put off by it are mostly lost causes at this point, whereas younger voters who see gay rights as their generation’s civil rights struggle would be very much energized.
Having someone who is secretly in favor of your side of an issue is exactly like having someone who doesn’t support it. Having someone who is now in favor of your issue but supports the states deciding it (as he was careful to qualify) is having someone who supports the status quo. While it’s nice he’s not going to actively roll back progress made, it’s not exactly helpful either. Even to the extent that being publicly out in favor is nice for generating support/enthusiasm, it would have been a hell of a lot more useful BEFORE North Carolina decided to write a ban on even so much as the possibility of civil unions or domestic-partner benefits into its constitution.
Having someone powerful in your corner who’ll do exactly as much to help you as his aides calculate is politically beneficial is not that much of a warm fuzzy feeling.