Will Gay Rights Turn Out to Be Obama's Biggest Legacy?


Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Reason contributor) Jonathan Rauch argues yes in an essay at The New Republic:

When he first campaigned for the White House, Barack Obama vowed to be a fierce advocate for gay rights, but it hasn't always been clear if he intended to keep his promise. Indeed, we gay folks had gotten used to grousing about the President. We noticed the way he dragged his feet after promising to repeal the ban on military service; we felt betrayed when his Justice Department insisted, as George W. Bush's had done, that gays have marriage equality already, because we can already marry someone of the opposite sex.

To gay Americans, this did not look like the fierce urgency of now. It looked like more of the same, what gay activists had come to expect from Democratic politicians: Do as little as you can get by with to keep the gay lobby quiet, but save political capital for more important causes and constituencies.

But it's now clear that the Obama administration has quietly accumulated an impressive and unprecedented record on gay rights. Indeed, with his health-care reform bill in jeopardy of being overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by a future Congress, there's a real possibility that his efforts for gay equality will prove to be his most enduring legacy. The history books may remember Obama for doing for gays what Lyndon Johnson did for African Americans: Leading his party across a bridge to an irrevocable position on civil rights.

Read the whole thing here. For more on Obama's gay marriage endorsement, see here and here.

NEXT: Is Romney Vulnerable on Gay Marriage?

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  1. In Mitt Romney’s AmeriKKKaLobster Girl in Mitt Romney’s AmeriKKKa.

    1. Well I fucked that up. Link should work though.

    2. Obama’s greatest legacy will be ordering the execution of an American citizen without due process and bragging about it on TV.

      1. I’m not sure whether that’s his fault for doing it or the American people’s for collectively not giving a shit.

        1. Plenty of credit to spread around.

  2. Holy hell, another article on gay rights? Look, I’m as down with the gays as anybody [insert joke here…haha, “insert”], but this is getting to be a bit much over the last few days, IMHO.

    I know, why don’t we get into an argument over whether it’s actually statist to expand marriage bonuses to gays? Those are always fun, and whoever you disagree with is this close to changing their opinion on the subject.

    1. 3 Most important libertarian issues:

      1. Gay Marriage.

      2. Taxed and regulated marijuana.

      3. Government funded fetal stem cell research.

      Our “liberaltarian” president has only delivered on #3.

      1. For your comment, you win this medal and a Kate Upton pic for your blog.

      2. Taxing and regulation aren’t the most libertarian way of doing stuff.

    2. Equality under the law is generally a good thing — if gays were banned from government-run roads, would that be an improvement?

      That being said, the best solution is to prohibit any government involvement in marriage at all.

      1. But he’s not taking that position. Taking that position would be opening up an equal protection case against states that don’t recognize gay marriage. He’s emphatically declining to do that.

        1. that’s just it. He is taking no position in substance; he’s just saying some things a group of supporters with deep pockets wants to hear. Never forget – liberalism cannot survive without a massively uninformed populace. And those swooning over what is nothing more than a craven display of pandering are not willing to see if there is any meat to his statement.

          1. It would be one thing if he lacked the power to do anything or, not that this could ever happen, felt that his office lacked the power to do anything. But he’s not saying either of those things. He’d just neglecting to act.

            And God help anyone who suggests he’s at all a principled federalist.

            1. the only thing this man is principled at is self-aggrandizement.

      2. I’m not arguing that Protefeed; in fact, I’m in the camp who believes that full marriage protection and bonuses should be extended to gays.

        I’m just tired of reading about the Great Retard’s announcement three times a day over the last few days. This time they managed to have two stories back-to-back.

        1. Yeah, I got that was what you were saying — just putting my 2 cents in on my POV.

      3. if gays were banned from government-run roads, would that be an improvement?

        Gays aren’t banned from marriage.

        A better analogy would be if I demanded the government provide roads where you drive on the left side, because that’s where I prefer to drive, and will not be happy in a right-side-road relationship.

        Of course that analogy still isn’t perfect since roads are more important than marriage.

  3. What? Am I taking crazy pills? The man did nothing! Symbolic my ass. If he were at all serious, he’d treat this issue as an equal protection violation and let loose the dogs of justice.

    I’m totally shocked at how much nothing is conflated into something. Have we really reached the point where open bullshit is celebrated?

    1. Have we really reached the point where open bullshit is celebrated?

      but but but, it’s from President Omniscient. And he was editor of the Harvard Law Review. And and and….

      We have also reached the true and final death of journalism and honest commentary.

    2. We reached that point when the Nobel Prize was handed out.

    3. Do you really want to let loose the Justice Department on this one? In IL there was a couple who formed a civil union. They wanted to celebrate this union with friends and family. The owners of the Bed and breakfast where they wanted to celebrate refused as the owners were religous types who didn’t want their business to be a part of such things. So the gay couple had their celebration at someone’s house and then sued the owners of the B&B.

      1. I’m not advocating. I’m just saying that that’s what he’d do if this were all about great social justice.

        1. I got. Sorry I missed your point.

  4. Wow, is Rauch going to be disappointed when Obama finds that he needs to say something different about Teh Gaiz to pick up some theocratic swing state like Virginia.

    1. This makes me wish he’d have to stump on the southside of Chicago this season. That would be pretty fun to watch.

    2. Yeah it’s a total theocracy here.


  5. The history books may remember Obama for doing for gays what Lyndon Johnson did for African Americans: Leading his party across a bridge to an irrevocable position on civil rights.

    Paging Barfman. Mr. Barfman please pick up the white courtesy throne.

    1. Is Root gay (NTTAWWT), because he sure sounds like my gay friends do about this.

  6. Sure he will. Right after he leads his party to an irrevocable position on medical marijuana, closing Guantanamo, and restoring respect for the constitutional rights of those suspected of terrorism!

    1. He did that too.

      It still counts if the position is “fuck that,” right?

  7. Until the State sanctifies (because only governments can determine what is spiritual and eternal) until everyone accepts the government’s degree of holy matrimony for gay polyandry, the United States will remain a hellhole of civil rights.

  8. Might as well, his legacy certainly won’t be on 4th Amendment civil liberties or the economy.

  9. No.

    1st Black President.

    10-15yrs from now, that will be his only mark on history.

    1. Second black president. How soon we forget.

      1. Clinton being a ReverseOreo doesn’t count.

        1. (wait, then Obama being a plain Oreo disqualifies him too…)

        2. I’d agree, but Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison says otherwise.

          1. One thing you would not guess about Morrison giving the awfulness of her work, she is a really good lecturer. I was at one she gave at Guildford College where she analyzed Beowulf. Interesting opinions and analysis.

            1. Sometimes there’s substance beneath the political face of people like her. Not often, but sometimes.

    2. 10-15yrs from now, that will be his only black mark on history.

    3. You do realize he’s as white as he is black.

    4. No. Obama will also be favorably remembered for his energy policy. It’s a lot smarter than most people give him credit for, and will start paying serious dividends in about 5 years.

  10. please just fucking stop with these pseudo-intellectual essays on what Obama’s self-serving announcement means. It means a couple of things:
    –he will do damn near anything if there is the possibility of political gain
    –he is willing to treat even loyal supporters with a level of disdain most folks here save for Fullerton cops
    –his dogwashers are stupid on a weapons grade level in swallowing political conversions like this

    There is no legacy; there are only, as is usual with Obama, just words. Nothing has changed for gays from what it was last week by his words. He provided the masses with rhetorical junk food – he said something they wanted to hear that requires no action on his part and provides no change in conditions.

  11. Since it seems he only really did it for the money, does that make Obama a gay prostitute?

    1. He is like Kenny in the episode where Kenny would do tricks like eat dog shit for money and Jesus told Kenny that he is a prostitute for not having any useful talents to exploit for gain. That fits Obama to a T.

      1. Stop hating already on free market entrepreneurs providing a valued service — it’s an insult to prostitutes to compare them to Obama.

  12. So are reason writers going to vote for Obama again?

    1. I’m beginning to wonder.

    2. You don’t want their friends thinking they are racist do you?

    3. of course.

    4. Only Bailey and Cavanaugh are left from that rogues gallery. I can’t see Tim making that mistake again.

      1. “I can’t see Tim making that mistake again.”

        Well he thinks Obama is a lock for reelection so why should he go against the forces of bigotry and reaction and historical inevitability and not vote for him again?

  13. Man, nothing against Jon Rauch. He writes otherwise insightful analysis (The Kindly Inquisitors and Government’s End are both great). This is just wishful thinking on his part, though. Great, Jon, you want to get married and you think Obama’s gonne help with that. Mmmkay. Take off the blinders (even though they’re fabulous) and start thinking.

  14. I thought destroying the economy and bankrupting the country was going to be his greatest legacy?

    Saying he’s okay with states letting gay people marry (or not) is a legacy?

  15. “The history books may remember Obama for doing for gays what Lyndon Johnson did for African Americans.”

    Attaching them to the federal client-state?

    1. I would have saide “Bringing a generation or more of real progress to an abrupt halt by overriding bottom-up change with a smothering federal bureaucratic ‘solution.'”

  16. Wow, had a witty and insightful comment to post here that would have just blown everyone’s mind and furthered the libertarian cause but . . .

    The squirrels can’t count since they say that one of my words was too long – 50 characters.

    I would have fixed that but I can’t find the 50 character word.

    1. Replace the quotes and apostrophes and then repost.

    2. 0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678

  17. To be fair, Obama’s biggest legacy might just be “gay rights”.

    (1) He signed a repeal of DADT.

    (2) He gave an interview saying he personally supported gay marriage.


    Assuming ObamaCare gets gutted, what else has he even done that much on?

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