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Obama, States’ Rights and Marriage Equality

May 9, 2012

I’m trying not to be too much of a sourpuss given the euphoria caused by President Obama’s announcement that he believes same-sex couples should be able to get married. Headlines note that “Obama Embraces Marriage Equality” and Obama has become the “first sitting president to announce his support for same-sex marriage.”

But after reading and listening to what Obama had to say about the matter, I immediately concluded the same as Mother Jones reporter/blogger Adam Serwer,

As Rick Klein reports, the president “stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.” In other words, while the president “personally” supports marriage equality, he also supports the right of states to prohibit same-sex marriage–as 38 states currently do. That doesn’t look much like strong leadership on the matter of marriage equality to me–but I’ll take it.

The president had to say something about marriage equality–everyone in his administration seemed to already be doing so. And I’m not sure the president had anything to lose by (tepidly) endorsing same-sex marriage: 65 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents support same-sex marriage, compared to only 20 percent of Republicans. Endorsing marriage equality it not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a savvy political gamble.

Unless, of course, you think Obama will lose the black vote to Mitt Romney over his support of same-sex marriage.




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