Civil Liberties

Will Obama Endorse Gay Marriage Today? UPDATE: HE JUST DID!


Update (3:05pm): "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." More, with caveats, etc., here.

Even as polls show that a majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage, the votes against it keep on coming. Most recently in the Tarheel State, which already banned the practice in law and now in its state constitution:

North Carolina is the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Six states — all in the Northeast except Iowa — and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.

The amendment passed easily, with about 61 percent of the vote. As important, it bans recognition of same-sex civil unions too.

Through a spokesman, Barack Obama called the result "disappointing," but as Jacob Sullum wrote earlier this morning, the president has long played both sides of the fence on the issue:

"I favor legalizing same-sex marriages," Barack Obama told a gay newspaper while seeking his first term as an Illinois state senator in 1996, "and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." When Obama ran for re-election in 1998, he took the National Political Awareness Test, which among other things asked, "Do you believe that the Illinois government should recognize same-sex marriages?" His response: "Undecided." 

More here.

Now comes word via the Wash Post that "Obama may clarify position on same-sex marriage in interview today." Vice President Joe Biden's recent endorsement of gay marriage has helped put the spotlight on Obama's ambivalence and, possibly more important, the politics of the situation may have changed. Not only is gay marriage an issue through which Obama might separate himself from Mitt Romney, the president is risking alienating many of his biggest donors:

"My feelings about this are constantly evolving," he said in 2010. "I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people. And this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about."

But gay supporters grew angry Sunday after Obama aides tried to tamp down excitement over Biden's comments and dismiss any suggestion that the vice president's views differed from those of the president.

At least one in six Obama bundlers are gay, according to a Washington Post count, making it hard for the president to ignore the growing frustrations.

At the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan a few days ago had said that Obama's waffling didn't matter in the face of Romney's "rank hostility to gay people's equality." Now Sully signals that he's hoping that Obama does come out in favor of marriage equality.

So do I, though if Obama can "evolve," maybe Romney can devolve back to where he was on the issue when he ran for Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy:

I am pleased to have had an opportunity to talk with you and to meet many of you personally during your September meeting. I learned a great deal from those discussions and many thoughtful questions you posed. As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.

I am not unaware of my opponents considerable record in the area of civil rights, or the commitment of Massachusetts voters to the principle of equality for all Americans. For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent's record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.