From the Washington Post:
President Obama canceled an upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, a rare, deliberate snub that reflects the fresh damage done by the Edward Snowden case to an important relationship already in decline.
Obama had planned to visit Moscow for a symbolic one-on-one meeting at the Kremlin with Putin ahead of next month’s Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. In unusually blunt terms, the White House announced Wednesday that Obama will skip the Moscow stop because there is too little hope of a productive meeting.
That’s one reason for the cancellation. But, as the president told Jay Leno, the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia also played a part in the decision.
Saying that he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them,” Obama criticized a law, enacted in June, that prohibits public events promoting gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples. A Russian official has promised that the law will be enforced during next February’s Sochi Games despite the International Olympic Committee’s contrary stance.
“One of the things I think is very important for me to speak out on is making sure that people are treated fairly and justly because that’s what we stand for, and I believe that that’s a precept that’s not unique to America,” Obama said. “That’s just something that should apply everywhere.”
Think about that for a moment: cancelling a summit with a major power in part over gay rights. Can you imagine any other president in your lifetime doing that? Even another Democrat? I can’t, and I’ve been around since the last few months of the Truman administration. Hell, I can even imagine a few presidents congratulating the Russians for “standing up for traditional family values.”
A lot of people in the LGBTQ community have criticized President Obama for not moving fast enough or far enough on issues such as marriage equality and job discrimination. Not that they didn’t have a point up to a point, but in the reality of politics and the history of America and gay rights, this president is so far ahead of his predecessors that it truly boggles the mind. He’s willing to put the prestige and the dignity of the country on the line for us… all of us.
That’s an amazing thing.