To much fanfare yesterday, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to endorse the idea of gay marriage. While the President described his view as “evolving,” it’s actually a view he’s held before. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage,” Barack Obama said in 1996, long before his daughters brought him back to that position.
Reactions ranged from Rush Limbaugh’s can’t-believe-he’s-serious “War on Marriage” accusation, to George Takei praising the President’s historic decision to Glenn Greenwald pointing out that the movement that pressured the President ought to be credited for the new turn.
No matter how you interpret the President’s decision to articulate his support for same-sex marriage, in the same manner, in fact, as former Vice President Dick Cheney did while he was in office, one thing’s for sure: it’s been a money winner for the Obama campaign, which apparently raised $1 million in the 90 minutes after his support for same-sex marriage became public alone. Just an hour ago, in fact, I got another text from the Obama campaign: “If you’re proud of our president, get his back by pitching in today,” along with a handy link to donate!
The influence money had on the President’s decision to again endorse same-sex marriage is undeniable. One out of six bundlers for the Obama campaign are gay, for example, and the campaign has been lagging in donations from its entertainment business donors (amplified by the President’s rejection of SOPA despite Chris Dodd’s threats no doubt).
The President may lament the influence of money in politics publicly, and his base even agrees, but without the financial pressure exerted on the Obama campaign by gay donors and backers, it’s unlikely the President’s view on same-sex marriage would “evolve” back to what it was before Obama became a mainstream candidate. Now if one in six Obama bundlers were Muslims or victims of the drug war, maybe we’d see some evolution in Barack Obama’s views on the never-ending war on terror or war on drugs too.
UPDATE: The President raised $15 million for his campaign at a Hollywood fundraiser headlined by George Clooney tonight. He hit upon the theme of gay rights repeatedly there and elsewhere on his West Coast campaign tour.