And there’s a lesson here for all progressives — and for the Obama campaign. We were told by the Democratic strategists and the campaign pollsters, the Democratic establishment, that coming out for marriage equality would be harmful to the president. The establishment pundits, gay and straight, were defending the White House, giving the president a pass, as were the establishment gay groups. The DNC’s openly gay treasurer, Andy Tobias, continually defended the president’s record and continually predicted disaster if he were to go further on LGBT rights.
But the opposite has happened. I’ve strongly pushed against the idea, now posited by some of those very same establishment gay pundits, that Obama came out for marriage equality because of some kind of special bond he has with the gay community, mostly because it obscures the hard, strategic work of grassroots and netroots activists who pressured the president in the face of resistance from many in the LGBT leadership who were giving the president a pass.
On the issue of marriage equality, blogger Joe Sudbay of Americablog asked the question of the president over a year ago and elicited Obama’s statement that he was “evolving.” Sudbay and others didn’t leave it there. The president’s speeches were interrupted and his administration was criticized over and over again, pressured by those activists and by some journalists and commentators.