Did President Barack Obama become the first President in the history of the United States to announce that he is a homosexual this week? No, he didn’t. But with the amount of coverage of what he did say and jubilation from the gay community, it almost seems as though he did.
The President’s remarks on Wednesday should be minimally surprising to both his critics and his supporters.
“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts.
This is something that Americans already know, as the remark was made by the head of an Administration that ended the ban on openly gay individuals serving in the United States military.
Obama went on to say:
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
Some pundits claim that Obama has exhibited the paramount in political bravery in simply uttering the words “I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” but others would classify the so-called bravery as cowardice. The President has been under pressure to comment on the issue of gay marriage since gaffe-happy Vice President Joe Biden said last Sunday that he completely supports the rights of gay Americans to marry.
While party-line Republicans and Democrats have certainly seized the moment and either used it in criticism or support of the President, there exists no political victory or defeat for either side in what he said. What is illustrated by Obama’s support of gay marriage — but, only as a State issue — is what some people might recognize as the President’s disdain for States’ rights and how even when he advocates them, he cancels them out.
Obama instructed the Justice Department in February to no longer defend the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the legal prohibition on Federal recognition of same-sex marriages. DOMA also included provisions giving States that opt out of allowing gay Americans to marry the right to decline to recognize gay marriages performed in other States. Essentially, the President has attempted to play both sides of the issue: Support States’ rights to perform gay marriages while eliminating other States’ rights to decline to recognize those marriages performed in other States, 1+(-1)=0.
This is just a new example of Obama’s false hope. Consider how he has hoped medical marijuana patients in some States would have short-term memory loss about his 2008 campaign rhetoric on States’ rights and pot. Remember how he wasn’t planning to “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent State laws about medical marijuana.” Well, he has changed his tune of late, saying last month: “It’s against Federal law. I can’t nullify Congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a Federal law that’s on the books.’”