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Posted by on Aug 2, 2009 in Politics, Society | 12 comments

What Obama secretly believes

James Kirchick has a very interesting article in the Sunday Post. Since declaring himself as a candidate for President, Barack Obama has consistently stated that he opposes gay marriage. Yet it is practically an article of faith among liberals that Obama secretly supports gay marriage, but says the opposite for political reasons. James writes,

I’ve lost track of the number of liberal friends and acquaintances, gay and straight alike, who assure me that Obama “really” supports same-sex marriage and, furthermore, that this point is obvious…This is convenient for liberals because it allows them to deflect blame from politicians they like onto those they don’t, namely conservatives, the sincerity of whose opposition to same-sex marriage they never challenge.

It’s interesting that liberals give their elected officials a pass on this issue. In contrast, liberal activists have relentlessly criticized Democratic politicians who secretly opposed the invasion of Iraq but chose to go along with the war for political reasons.

Consider a second analogy. What if liberal politicians secretly opposed discrimination against an ethnic or racial minority, but said otherwise in public to protect themselves? That would be unconscionable. Opposition to racism is an issue where we expect politicians to follow their convictions regardless of the cost.

Yet how often do advocates of gay rights insist their struggle is the civil rights movement of the 21st century? As the name of the Human Rights Campaign indicates, gay rights activists see their struggle as no different from campaigns against racism and oppression.

As both a Republican and an advocate of equal rights, I have mixed emotions about all of this. Like James, I agree that denying one’s convictions speaks very poorly of any elected official. On the other hand, if the gay community knows that Barack Obama is on their side, why should he incur the political costs of actually saying so? Important strides toward equality are being made all the time. Younger Americans favor equality in much greater numbers than their parents.

Here’s one point I take away from all of this: If discrimination against gays and lesbians really were as bad as discrimination against blacks in the 1960s, gays and lesbians wouldn’t be nearly as forgiving of Obama or any other politician who kept his support for equality a secret.

And one final point about regarding Obama’s secret beliefs: In his heart of hearts, he never, ever would have chosen to drink Bud Light. It doesn’t go well with arugula.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly

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  • skylights

    Obama seems so right in so many other areas, it’s hard for liberals to imagine that he doesn’t secretly support gay marriage. Yet we realize that it’s politically wise for him to pretend he doesn’t. The majority of the public still opposes gay marriage. Getting embroiled in that is a headache Obama doesn’t need; he has bigger fish to fry, and he needs all the public approval he can get. He’ll do what he can for gays, but no more. Public opinion will have to change first.

  • Father_Time

    Concerning this particularly rather unimportant issue, (considering the issues pressing), I suspect that the President “believes” what the overwhelming majority of Americans “believe” and he is prudent to do so.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Since it is impossible, Bud Light or not, to read minds, people fairly judge politicians by what they actually say and do.

    Remind me again what Republican politicians have said and done?

  • Silhouette

    Gay and other sexual fetish behaviors are not a minority group.

    Next topic.

  • mikkel

    From the campaign.

    “According to several sources, including Johnson and Lenore, Obama said he did not think it was “politically feasible” to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in the country at this point. Sen. Obama acknowledged that the community wanted full marriage rights but said that he favored civil unions for now while leaving open the possibility that his position might evolve in the future.”

    I remember reading somewhere else where he said that it was up to people that want same sex marriage to work to change people’s minds and when there was a growing movement he’d be in support of it.

    Quite frankly that’s how I think politicians should behave about nearly everything unless there is a gross injustice and really, what’s he supposed to do about it anyway? He said he is against DOMA and should be doing more to get that repealed but after that it’s not a federal issue.

    People that say that the issue is as bad as blacks before the civil rights act are insane, but I haven’t read people claiming that: they say that it’s as bad as miscegenation

  • StockBoySF

    Oh, please.

    Obama doesn’t personally support gay marriage. He’s said so and I take him at his word. Obama takes that stand based on his own religious belief. Marriage is rightfully a personal and religious belief. Obama does not claim to know God’s plan and realizes others have different religious views.

    Quite frankly religion should not be part of the political process. His support of civil unions respects the ability of churches to decide what’s right for each of their beliefs. In other words, civil unions confer state and (to some extent) society-recognized benefits to couples, while leaving “marriage” up to each church as a personal and private expression.

    Obama does support acceptance for gays and lesbians in America and ending that asinine “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. In most of Obama’s speeches I’ve heard on the campaign trail (and some as president) Obama mentions gays and lesbians raising the awareness of gays and lesbians in our country.

    Obama will not use gay marriage as a wedge issue to get votes (as the Republicans do) and I feel that if a state were to pass gay marriage laws, then Obama would not oppose them.

    Because marriage is so wrapped up with the conferring of “civil” rights, the whole marriage debate is tricky. I think Obama sees marriage as states’ rights, and not a federal right.

    His personal opinion, what’s politically expedient and what he will support as president are all three different questions. I think it’s good that Obama doesn’t let his personal opinion get in the way of doing what others in America wants- he is the leader of ALL Americans. Not just Americans who think the same way as he does.

    But I suppose the nuances are lost on too many people.

  • DLS

    It could simply be that with this issue, liberal Democrat Obama insists on remaining in the mainstream, instead. Or it was just another false position to appeal to the gullible by making Obama appear more of a moderate Democrat than he has shown himself to be since the election (which didn’t surprise those of us who never were fooled, but whom were not really “targeted” during the election, anyway). Or it could be something related to reality imposing limits even among Democrats, as we now see with some _Democrats_ actually starting to be concerned about the current health care lunacy.

  • shannonlee

    Durning the campaign, when words matter, Obama was “personally” against gay marriage. Now that he is President and words don’t mean nearly as much as legislation, Obama supports gays, but does nothing.

    The Dem party has turned its back on the gay community.

  • Almoderate

    First thing’s first… What’s wrong with arugula? I enjoy “spring mix” salads just as much as the next person. Is spinach going to be taboo next? And I have to say… Even I wouldn’t drink Bud Light. No beer drinker in thier right mind would drink Bud Light. It’s not even real beer! It’s some watered down pale imitation of what might eventually become beer. At least go with a Sam Adams or Guiness brew if you absolutely must drink the stuff they sell at the grocery stores.

    Back to the matter at hand… Why not, instead of interpreting what he might have said just listen to what came from the horse’s mouth?

    The problem is that most people equate “does not promote gay marriage” as “against gay marriage.” And as you can see here:

    Obama does not support an ammendment to define marriage. In fact, he didn’t support Proposition 8, as you can see here:

    And as you can see here:

    He does support civil unions. That’s something that the right wants to overlook and just go with the “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman” half-quote.

    Again, I’m not saying that Obama supports or believes in gay marriage. But it should also be made clear that he does not oppose it, either.

  • DLS

    “The Dem party has turned its back on the gay community.”

    It merits again restating what I’ve stated before: Welcome to the “back of the bus” treatment that Mike Huckabee named so well regarding the actual state of affairs of the Religious Right within (by) the GOP.

    Just shut up and keep voting the way you’re _expected_ to vote. We know you won’t switch parties!

  • DLS

    That goes in general as well for lib Dems. Obviously you’ll find the Republican Party always to be worse.

  • adesnik

    Almoderate, there is nothing wrong with arugula. I really like it. And I don’t mind Bud Light so much either.

    As for Obama, how exactly can a president neither support nor oppose gay marriage? Is he not sure what he believes? (Well, he did say that a different social issue was above his pay grade.)

    Also, a few comments have raised the point that it only makes sense to judge public officials according to what they say, not what we think they may believe. Of course, what someone says matters a lot. But the fact is, gauging someone’s intentions is an essential part of politics. We all know that politicians pay lip service to all sorts of things without really caring about them. So we do our best to gauge their intentions.

    Remember George Bush’s supposed intention to invade Iran? Lots of liberals kept on writing about it no matter how often the White House denied it. My point isn’t that Bush wanted to invade Iran or that it was reasonable to think he did. It is simply that judging intention is standard practice on both sides of the aisle.

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