Much has been reported recently about the Obama administration’s position on same-sex marriage. This weekend, Vice President Biden went on “Meet The Press” to show his full support for same-sex marriage, saying he was “absolutely comfortable” with the policy. Facially, this appears to conflict with President Obama’s position as the president’s latest stance on the issue is: “evolving.”
What is not being reported is that this apparent conflict in positions on same-sex marriage is perfectly in keeping with President Obama’s political record on the issue. Obama’s position on same-sex marriage has been: “favor legalizing same-sex marriages,” 1996; “marriage is between a man and a woman,” 2008; and “my opinion on gay marriage is evolving,” present.
What is most significant about Obama’s reversals on gay marriage is the timing; each reversal of position just happened to greatly benefit Obama’s political interests at precisely the time they occurred.
In 1996 Barack Obama said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” At the time Obama was running in a contested Democratic primary for state senate in Chicago, Illinois. A Democratic primary candidate opposing same-sex marriage in that district in 1996 would have a difficult time winning. As such, Obama was a fervent support of same-sex marriages at that time.
In 2008 Barack Obama said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” At the time Obama was running for president. A presidential candidate supporting same-sex marriage in 2008 would have had a difficult time winning the election, as the position was outside the mainstream at that time.
In 2011, just three years later, Obama said, “My opinion on gay marriage is evolving.” This statement came at a time when he was struggling to raise money for his re-election campaign. The gay community is a significant donor base for Democrats.
Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat and generally considered the most prominent gay elected official, said, “[Obama] was probably inclined to think that same-sex marriage was legitimate, but as a candidate for president in 2008 that would have been an unwise thing to say.” So the most well-known gay Democrat elected official believes Obama told the voters one thing to get elected, even though he thinks something else.
Now in 2012 we’re repeating the Obama cycle on same-sex marriage, as the Obama administration is trying to have it both ways. Today Obama needs the political donations of the gay community, who favor same-sex marriage, and in November he’ll need the votes from the mainstream electorate, who generally oppose same-sex marriage.
Knowing Obama’s history of staking out whatever position most benefits his political ends, we must ask ourselves: are we at all surprised that Team Obama is trying to have it both ways?
Rather than the media reporting on Vice President Biden’s recent statements, they should be reporting on the political expediency of Obama’s flip-flops on the issue each time it benefits his political ends.