I’m sorry, but I’m not really seeing the bravery or heroism, here. It’s important, sure. And it’s historic. And it might prove to be an effective use of the bully pulpit.
It’s also about f*cking time. Basically, Obama announced to the country today that he, personally, is cool with gay marriage. It’s a position he has allegedly held all along, but didn’t have the political spine to state publicly prior to this afternoon. Even then, he only made his statement after carefully strategizing with his aides to make sure it wouldn’t damage him politically. Or I guess to put it more accurately, once his aides convinced him that his gutless silence was hurting him more than what he said today possibly could.
Obama’s statement doesn’t change a single policy. He has basically adopted a federalist approach to the issue. To my knowledge, gay marriage also happens to be the only issue in which Obama embraces federalism. Obama apparently believes the states should be able to discriminate when it comes to marriage benefits, but if they allow cancer and AIDS patients to smoke pot, he asserts the supremacy of federal law, and sends in the SWAT teams. What a twisted set of priorities.
Moreover, because the federal government is actively discriminating against homosexual couples based on whether or not the state where they reside recognizes their marriage, there’s actually a decent equal protection argument argument against letting the states decide this issue. Or, better yet, for the federal government to just stop conferring special benefits onto heterosexual couples. Or, still better yet, to stop conferring benefits onto married couples at all.* And I say that as someone who generally believes in federalism. (And, to be fair, who isn’t married.)
I’ve been happy to praise Obama on those unfortunately few occasions when there’s been reason to do so. But this? This is a president half-assing it while still keeping plenty of political cover, and on an issue in which he could have effected real change had he had the courage of his convictions years ago.
As leadership goes, it’s little more than acknowledging the direction the wind is blowing. It hardly merits a new chapter for Profiles in Courage.
(*Insert boilerplate libertarian disclaimer about how government shouldn’t be in the business of sanctioning relationships in the first place.)