Thursday, February 24, 2011

DOMA and Obama

To continue off of John's post (and Maggie and Pat’s comments) about Gay Marriage/DOMA and Obama's seemingly flip flopping stance yesterday, I believe that Obama did not change his opinion to appease voters because as far as I'm concerned the gay/lesbian community would have likely voted for Obama for re-election in 2012 regardless of his stance on gay marriage. He is a supporter of civil unions and at one point believed it was up to the jurisdiction of individual states to determine the legality of gay marriage. Coming from San Francisco, I know that it would take a very strong liberal and pro-gay marriage Presidential candidate to take the vote away from Obama -- and a candidate like this would likely have no chance of election in the majority of the country.

I support his decision and to me, it doesn't matter what his opinion was 5 years ago or 10 years ago or last week because yesterday he publicly decided to stop defending DOMA and this brings us one step closer to equality among straights, gays, and lesbians in the United States and allowing the fair and legal marriage everyone is entitled to.
John's original posted article from the Huffington Post:


jwhitney said...

I agree with most of what you say, Roxanne. I just have an issue with this repeated Obama behavior of "figuring things out along the way"--similar to the "let's pass the health care bill and then see what's in it" method (not I'm trying to bash the bill). I just feel that if Obama already had the gay vote, why was he defending DOMA? Sure, what he did yesterday is great for the gay community, but why the sudden epiphany to change his legal policy on such a disciminatory bill? Shouldn't his defense against DOMA been something from Day 1 of his Presidency? If the critique believes that he may've not won the election if he had so openly rejected DOMA, doesn't that credit the belief that he's only now supporting it because it will gain more votes and Democratic support?

Many President are credited by the actions they make--the bills they pass, the speeches they give, etc.--but I feel that Obama is increasingly becoming a President of inaction.

Ryan Karerat said...

We run the risk of being too politically analytical, I think. You raise a lot of good points John, and as with any policy decision I'm sure they undertook the political calculations related to this changed stance. But I also don't see how this is an overt political stance intended to satisfy his base. It's not like we're in an election year or anything, so if we say this is a cynically political move, then what move isn't?

As for the critique that Obama is 'figuring things out along the way,' I actually agree with him in the more gradual transition he is taking. Obama has more or less admitted in the past that he is in favor of gay marriage, but that the political realities of his time prevent him from going out and trying to make that happen overnight. So he's taking something of a Burkean style conservative approach to it, gradually easing the country along in its inevitable path towards same sexual equality. Obama can't dwell on social issues right now when the economy is such a pressing issue, but he can still make incremental improvement in the long race towards equality.

^A good rundown of the administration's legal strategy on DOMA. The money quote: "That’s why the letter is addressed solely to John Boehner. The Administration has taken an unambiguous stand in favor of gay equality on marriage. The ball is now in Boehner’s court, and his party’s."

I, for one, am willing to simply celebrate the fact that with this decision, our president has come down more firmly in favor of gay marriage than any president before him.

What this probably ensures is that the gay marriage debate will figure more prominently in the 2012 election than it otherwise would have. And Obama is sending a message with this decision that when it does come up on the campaign trail, he's ready to unequivocally defend gay rights. It'll be up to Republicans to decide whether they want to push back hard against Obama on this one, which will fire up their base, but also alienate moderates as support for same sex marriage continues to grow.

Ryan Karerat said...

And yes, I recognize the irony of saying that we risk being too politically analytical... and then going on to provide my own political analysis of the situation. Oh well.

TJE said...

Interest take by Jonah Goldberg:

The framers did indeed see the president-- and not just the judicary-- as determining the constitutionality of laws. If President Obama thinks DOMA is unconstitutional, shouldn't he refuse to defend it *and* to enforce it?