White House sticking with the “it’s for the states to decide” talking point on marriage

This is when we realize that the White House really is very insular. The people who work there must have no concept of how ridiculous their talking points on same-sex marriage sound in the real world — you know, to the base. They’re sticking with that “states’ rights” argument. Still. Seriously, just evolve already. This is beyond ridiculous.

Not sure who the reporter is who asked the question. (Update: it was Laura Meckler from the WSJ) You can watch here, this interaction beings at around 26:30:

Q On another topic, last week the President spoke about gay marriage when he was in New York and he said that — talked about how this has been the province of the state and that’s the — referring to what was happening in the debate in New York, he said that’s the power of democracy at work. Does that mean that he also respects the outcome of democracy at work in California where voters rejected the idea of gay marriage.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think as you saw in the decision we announced that we would no longer — this administration would no longer be participants defending the Defense of Marriage Act because we do not believe it’s constitutional, that it’s precisely because of his belief that this was a matter that needs to be decided by the states. So without commenting on a particular other state, I think he was making that clear
with regard to the action in New York.

Q Okay, but —

MR. CARNEY: But I’m not going to put words in his mouth applying to another state. I mean, you can analyze that, but — because I haven’t heard him say that. But obviously the DOMA decision — what he said in New York was about his belief, our belief, that this is a matter that states should decide.

Q And the central argument in the challenge to Proposition 8 by supporters of same-sex marriage rights is that this isn’t something that should be decided state by states, in fact, that there are federal rights involved. So would he reject –

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President very strongly supports equal rights and he’s — we’ve been — he’s made that clear as well, and he said it again in New York at the event that you’re discussing. So I’m not going to —

Q But I’m referring to the –

MR. CARNEY: I don’t really have a lot I can say about Proposition 8 with regards to what the President said last week. You know, I don’t — I’m not willing to go to what the President didn’t discuss. I can talk about what he did discuss.

Q So, but the proper reading of what he said — it sounds like what you’re saying but I want to be clear — is that, yes, this is up for the states and if New York decides that they want to allow same-sex marriage, great; if California decides that they don’t want to, then that’s their decision as well.

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I can’t improve upon the words that the President delivered publicly whatever night it was — Thursday night. So I’m not disagreeing with that interpretation, but he has said quite clearly, as he did in the DOMA decision and as he did on Thursday night, that he believes that it’s for the states to decide.

Get your “Evolve Already” t-shirts here. Sounds like we’ll need to keep up the pressure.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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