For years, we have followed the painful display of Barack Obama trying to deal with same-sex marriage by finding the best political position for himself. Principle has never been part of the equation, of course. The decision whether to stop discrimination against homosexuals is clearly based on what would be the most useful to the President. The result has been rather ugly with Jay Carney prompting laughs with the recent position that the President has been clear that his position is unclear. Now the President has adopted another position tailored for the election.
The President has decided not to reach any conclusion on the right to marry but instead will leave it to the states. Here is Carney with the latest Obama position: “His belief, our belief [is] that this is a matter that states should decide.” There are a couple of problems with the statement. First, people have asked the President whether he personally supports same-sex marriage. The issue of whether state or federal governments have the principal voice is secondary to that question. Second, that threshold issue could have great importance to the secondary issue: if he believe that the ban is a form of discrimination, it may not be simply a state issue. Would Obama leave race or gender discrimination to the states?
As someone who strongly supports states rights, I generally like leaving things to the state but Obama’s position remains a rather transparent effort to avoid answering a question of principle.
There are profiles of courage in politics and this is not one of them.