Though most gay rights advocates have given up hope that the president will come out in favor of gay marriage — with, say, the kind of solemn, heartfelt speech he delivered in 2008 — they want him to know they’re on to what he’s doing, and they’re not impressed.
Obama’s perceived reluctance to say what’s in his heart is particularly grating for a community with a history of fearing being open.
“They are speaking in code. They are putting out these very nuanced statements, which come right up to the line but which don’t fully endorse marriage equality. It’s really hard to believe that this is sustainable,” said Richard Socarides, a New York attorney and who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues.
The situation’s only likely to get thornier as November nears. Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, who is mayor of Los Angeles, has said he’d like to see gay marriage support written in to the party platform, adding emphasis to an effort that’s picking up more support and attention. That’s a symbolic fight for a symbolic plank in a symbolic document but one with all the makings of a crackling cable news inferno in an otherwise drama-free convention — and one imbued with increasing significance now that the president is on record opposing a state ban that will have been decided by the time he accepts his party’s nomination there….
“Voters like authenticity, and ‘evolving’ as a position is about as inauthentic as you can get,” Socarides said.
Yesterday’s little mess is a sideshow compared to what’s going to happen in early September when, as I expect, the DNC platform committee refuses to put marriage equality in the Democratic party platform. It’s going to be an unnecessary reminder, two months before the election, that our party doesn’t consider us fully equal.
Finally we can say that the President has done some significant things on gay rights the past three and a half years (albeit with some serious nudging, to put it lightly). But civil rights isn’t a one-off deal. We’re not fully free until we’re fully free. And it’s not impatient, or rude, or ungrateful of us to expect our party to endorse our full equality, now.
The timing on this marriage debacle couldn’t be worse for the President. And this kind of snafu doesn’t help.