In the end, the values that the President cares most deeply about is how we treat other people. The President and First Lady are both practicing Christians, and obviously this position may be considered to put them at odds with the views of others, but when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing Himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you’d want to be treated.
We make it absolutely clear that we are talking about civil marriages and civil laws. This isn’t a federal issue. We must be respectful of religious liberty, that churches and other faith institutions are still going to be able to make determinations about what their sacraments are, what they recognize.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s comments over the weekend “expedited” the president’s timing in making his announcement, aides said in interviews on Wednesday, but it did not help shape his decision. The president has gradually reached his position over the last year, advisers said, and was particularly influenced last year when legislators in New York voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
“He sat back and thought, ‘What would I do?’”a senior adviser to the president said. “He would have voted yes.”
But Biden’s remarks deeply annoyed Obama’s team, people close to the situation tell POLITICO, because it aggrandized his role at the expense of Obama’s yeoman efforts on behalf of the community and pushed up the timing of a sensitive announcement they had hoped to break — at a time and place of their own choosing — in the weeks leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this fall.
Nor did it tickle anyone, from Obama on down, that Biden — who backed the Defense of Marriage Act while serving in the Senate in the 1990s — seemed to be getting more credit in the LGBT community than a president who has actually taken steps to repeal the Clinton-era law that defined marriage as something that could only take place between a man and a woman.
And it chafed Obama’s team that Biden had, at times, privately argued for the president to hold off on his support of marriage equality to avoid a backlash among Catholic voters in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to two officials familiar with those discussions.
But his decision also reflects a hard-headed acknowledgement of the changing nature of the Democratic electoral coalition. Indeed, historians may someday view Obama’s announcement Wednesday as a milestone in the evolution of his party’s political strategy, because it shows the president and his campaign team are increasingly comfortable responding to the actual coalition that elects Democrats today-not the one that many in the party remember from their youth…
Obama’s announcement might not significantly change the overall level of his 2012 support, especially in an election where economic issues will dominate. But the announcement may reflect the Obama camp’s thinking about the likely composition of his support. It shows the president, however reluctantly, formulating an agenda that implicitly acknowledges the party is unlikely to recreate the support it attracted from the white working-class and senior voters who anchored Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition. Instead, the announcement shows him reaching out to mobilize the new pillars of the Democratic electorate, particularly younger people and socially liberal white collar whites.
President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage carries a political cost, but it also means floods of cash from wealthy gay donors and disillusioned young people eager to be inspired by him again…
“This is beyond unifying — it’s electrifying,” said Eugene Sepulveda, a former top bundler who withdrew to take a non-political job early this year. “This man stands for right, despite the political consequences.”
And for a class of disillusioned progressive mega-donors, many of them gay, the completion of Obama’s “evolution” is an invitation reason to return.
“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”
Richard Grenell, the gay Republican foreign policy aide who resigned from his job on the Mitt Romney campaign last week after the religious right raised objections, wasn’t cutting Mr. Obama much slack on Wednesday. “While I am pleased with President Obama’s new decision, it’s important to keep politicians from playing politics with a group’s civil rights,” Mr. Grenell said in an interview. “The president’s timing suggests that he is once again more concerned with his own political calculations than with actual equal rights. The president could have evolved when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, or even yesterday, before the swing state of North Carolina voted.”
A leading voice in the social conservative movement is worried that the tide has turned against the right on gay marriage and that President Obama’s announcement could further erode their position.
Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly expressed concern when asked about the long-term effects of having a sitting president supporting gay marriage and polling that shows an increasing number of voters support same-sex marriage, especially young voters.
“What you say about the polls is correct about the younger people feeling a lot differently,” she told The Hill Wednesday afternoon. “I think [Obama is] making a terrible mistake for the future of our country as well as politically.”
LaSalvia says most Republicans have welcomed GOProud to the fold. “I go all over the country and gay people come up to me and say, ‘I’m not ready to vote Republican yet, but I’m really conservative.'”
He continued: “I speak at colleges once or twice a month, and every single time I’ve gone to a college the speech has been sponsored by the campus conservative group or the College Republicans. Not that long ago that speech would have been sponsored by the campus gay group. Whenever I’m at a conservative event like CPAC, my experience is overwhelmingly positive. I always hear ‘We’re so glad you’re here.’ And I hear all the time from big names in the conservative movement, ‘I can’t say it publicly yet, but I support you’re right to marry.’ I also hear ‘it’s not an issue for me.'”
“It is very sad to me that people who belong to the party of Abraham Lincoln are resisting so strenuously the equality and decency and integrity and treatment of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” Olson said. “This seems to be one of the last major civil rights battles of our country. And for people in our country to come out in numbers like this and say, ‘Well, we don’t want the persons next door—who are decent, God-fearing, taxpaying, obeying-the-law citizens who simply want to have happiness like the rest of us’—to say ‘No, I have that right and you can’t have it.’ That just seems mean to me.”
Depite his evolution on the matter, Obama contends that he still supports states’ right to decide the issue. So perhaps one day someone covering the White House can ask Jay Carney or the president why gay marriage deserves special consideration? Even Adam Sewer at the hopelessly left-wing Mother Jones correctly notes: “Obama has endorsed marriage equality federalism—not the notion that marriage for gays and lesbians is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution that can never be taken away.”
Which begs an obvious question: If Obama has endorsed federalism and believes that states have the right to define marriage, then why doesn’t he support the ability of states to extricate themselves from Obamacare? Why don’t states have the right to dictate their immigration laws? And does he “personally” believe that states should be able decide the issue of abortion? Roe v. Wade exists, but so does the Defense of Marriage Act.
[I]f you accept the framing of the debate that many liberals (and many journalists) embrace, then you have to acknowledge that President Obama has spent the last four years lying to the American people about his convictions on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, and giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry in the service of his other political priorities.
This is a harsh indictment, but it’s one that follows inexorably from premises that many of the president’s own supporters have wholeheartedly embraced. If they hold true to these premises — and the press holds true to its obligations — then the kind of uncomfortable questions the White House spent this week dodging will be asked again and again of the president over the course of the campaign to come.