Friday, May 11, 2012
I suppose I should be pleased that Obama expressed his personal approval of same-sex marriage. It is significant that a sitting president has made such a declaration for the first time, and this has a lot of symbolic value for many people.
I don't think this announcement has any great actual policy implications, since he had already decided not to defend the "Defense of Marriage Act" in court, and wants to leave banning or approving of same-sex marriage up to the states (as was the case before his announcement). People say that his statement has made the support of same-sex marriage "mainstream." But, it was already supported by most Americans, and by a strong majority of young Americans.
But, I'm wondering how many people take the president at his word that his thinking on this issue has evolved and he only recently changed his mind about whether he approves of same-sex marriage.
Did he really personally oppose the idea of same-sex couples getting married because he thought it was bad policy (for the country, not just his personal political prospects), and only recently come to decide that it would be good policy? Was he really so illiberal until a few days or weeks ago? Or, much more likely in my opinion, did he change his judgment about how support would affect his reelection prospects?
Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage when he ran for the Illinois Senate in 1996, and then opposed it publicly when he ran for the US Senate in 2004 and for President in 2008. Now, he supports it again.
It seems to me that the best theory is that he (and his campaign team) recently decided that he would personally benefit if he stopped lying about this particular issue at this particular time. That's not very noble or inspiring.
I don't see why this announcement should encourage anyone that he's likely to do the right thing on any issue until he thinks such action will help him personally.
If you want to support a presidential candidate who is more likely to do the right things, support Gary Johnson.