Thursday, June 23, 2011

Obama on Marriage Equality — Eventually Inevitable

Greg Sargent says that President Obama will eventually come out in favor of gay marriage.

By declaring that his position is “evolving” on gay marriage, Obama put himself in a position that’s fundamentally untenable. He let the world know that he believes in full marriage equality, and that he will say so sooner or later. All this succeeded in doing is stoking impatience among gay advocates for him to go ahead and say what he really believes. As the new mantra has it: “Evolve already.”

I’m inclined to give Mr. Obama a little bit of slack on this. Not much, but a little. In the highly unlikely event that he is not seeing it as a political issue but as a personal one based in his faith and his own awareness of what it’s like for people to live as citizens deprived of the same rights as other people, pressing him on it only makes his eventual but inevitable support seem hollow.

In the long run, the changes to the laws will come not because the president — any president — says so. It happens in the smaller and more intimate places such as communities of families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. The actual changes in the laws come at the state level and through people who respond directly to their constituents; vide New York.

That’s not to say that the president doesn’t have the power to influence and impress, but in matters of social change and evolution, it doesn’t really matter if he’s for or against it. The tide has already turned.