WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Although a host of top gay rights groups piled on the praise for President Obama’s marriage reversal this week, some say they are unhappy that the president didn’t go further by declaring opposition to the 39 U.S. states that define marriage as between a man and a woman.
From the start of his 2008 presidential campaign up until an ABC interview that aired Wednesday, Obama had said he believed marriage was between a man and a woman, although he frequently hinted to gay rights audiences that he was “evolving” towards another stance.
“At a certain point I 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,” said Obama this week.
The incumbent’s about-face came days after Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both expressed support for revamping marriage, resulting in a build-up of pressure on the president to make clear his views. On Monday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney grew flustered under a barrage of questions from skeptical reporters who suggested that Obama’s “evolving” rhetoric was shallow politicking.
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Top gay rights groups including Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Freedom to Marry, GLAAD, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force issued glowing statements following the Wednesday broadcast. Two Republican gay rights groups, Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, criticized the president for waiting to announce his support until the day after North Carolina’s marriage amendment was passed.
While writer Andrew Sullivan lauded Obama, saying, “That’s the change we believed in,” fellow gay columnist Dan Savage said he was “disappointed” that Obama wouldn’t declare war on traditional marriage language already in law.
Others were even less satisfied: Gawker editor John Cook called the announcement “bulls**t” and hammered the edited video for giving the president plenty of cover.
“He now believes that gay couples should be able to marry. He doesn’t believe they have a right to do so. This is like saying that black children and white children ought to attend the same schools, but if the people of Alabama reject that notion—what are you gonna do?” wrote Cook. “Before Roe v. Wade, abortion was a state-by-state issue, too. So was slavery. ... That is a half-assed, cowardly cop-out.”
Outside the gay rights blogosphere, many applauded Obama’s move while acknowledging the political strategy behind it: a New York Times article cited advisers to Mr. Obama who admitted the president did not believe in traditional marriage for a long time prior to the announcement, but had exercised “understandable” caution in the face of the upcoming election.
Conservative Washington Post writer Ed Rodgers noted that Obama’s shift “doesn’t just reveal his changed thinking, it perfectly matches his political needs at every step of his ambitious career.”
Obama came out in favor of gay “marriage” when running for the Illinois state senate in 1996, before opposing it in 2008.