While I have been sharply critical of much of what President Obama has done in his first year and a half in office, such as on the Afghan War, I have often given him the benefit of the doubt even as he has consistently governed far more as an establishmentarian centrist than as a transformational progressive, repelling his base by often being overly cautious, overly friendly to Republican interests, and far too much like his predecessor.
On same-sex marriage, though, I do not give him the benefit of the doubt and find his position reprehensible at a time when his leadership on the issue would be welcome:
President Obama remains opposed to same-sex marriage despite a federal judge's decision to strike down a ban on such marriages, a top White House adviser said Thursday.
Senior adviser David Axelrod said the president supports "equality" for gay and lesbian couples, but did not address directly Obama's position on Wednesday's court ruling, which struck down as unconstitutional California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.
"The president does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control," Axelrod said on MSNBC.
It's not entirely clear to me whether Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage is moral/personal or cynically political, but I suspect it's more the latter than the former. Either way, there's no excuse for it, particularly in the wake of Judge Vaughn Walker's clear and decisive ruling yesterday striking down California's bigoted Proposition 8.
How exactly do you support equality but oppose same-sex marriage? By supporting separate-but-equal civil unions? Please. To me, that's hair-splitting for political purposes.
Obama has been slow to do anything to support gay and lesbian Americans, including with respect to getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, but his continued opposition to allowing homosexual couples to marry -- as if that would be such a terrible thing, as if homosexual couples are inferior to heterosexual ones, as if civilization itself would collapse if the institution of marriage were extended beyond divorce-prone straights, arguments thoroughly rejected by Judge Walker -- is pure cowardice. Unless, of course, he really does think that marriage should be reserved exclusively for heterosexuals, in which case he's an idiot and a bigot.
Yes, I just said that, and I mean it. On this issue, one that speaks directly to the heart of American liberty and equality, there is simply no excuse. I still think very highly of the president, and I still think he can do a great deal of good in office, but it's time for him to be the genuinely historic figure so many of us hoped he would be.