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Where's the President on marriage equality? It depends on what year it is.

Joe Sudbay said this last night on Americablog:

It’s a little galling that the Log Cabin guy gets to ask the question about Obama’s stance on marriage equality. And, the answer is “Behind Dick Cheney.” But, that’s where Obama is.

Obama is on the wrong side of history, but that seems lost on the political geniuses at the White House. This has to change because we’re going to keep asking this question til we get the right answer.

Yep, and the pile-on continues and it’s the fault of the “genius” strategists in the White House and this President, not the pro-equality Republicans speaking freely. Check out this humiliation, from’s Michael Jones:

Meghan McCain: President Obama Should Do More For the Gay Community

“We get the bad rap, as Republicans, as being against gay marriage. But [Obama] isn’t doing anything for the gay community,” McCain noted on the show. She then went on to give President Obama a “C+” for his first two years in office.

…Ms. McCain’s criticism of President Obama should be taken with a bit of a grain of salt, of course. After all, a President John McCain certainly wouldn’t be doing much for the LGBT community, at least if his 2008 platform was any indication, or his current legislative work. John McCain wants to preserve “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” sidestep hate crimes legislation, and believes marriage is not for the gays. Doesn’t sound like the type of ally one would want.

But still, Meghan McCain’s grade of a “C+” is interesting. Earlier this year, LGBT radio host Michelangelo Signorile emceed a town hall with some LGBT leaders, activists and bloggers. Among those on the town hall’s panel? Blogger Pam Spaulding, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network director Aubrey Sarvis, Human Rights Campaign leader Joe Solmonese, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force director Rea Carey, National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling, and former Clinton advisor and activist Richard Socarides.

Signorile asked each of the panelists to grade President Obama on his work related to LGBT rights. Their collective verdict? Pam Spaulding, Richard Socarides, and Rea Carey all gave Obama a “D.” Aubrey Sarvis gave a “C.” And Mara Keisling and Joe Solmonese gave the President a “B.”

Average that all up, and they’re giving Obama the same grade that Meghan McCain did. Average, at best.

That is Barack Obama, 2010 edition. A hat tip to Rex Wockner, who passed on this nice reminder that our President is perhaps the only politician in recent memory to actually regress on the concept of civil rights and marriage equality.

Back in 1996, he responded to the Windy City Times “Impact Endorsement Questionnaire” on LGBT issues, and in question 7, his answer was quite clear:

Do you endorse the Marriage Resolution, a statement of support for the right of same-gender individuals to marry?

He clearly writes:

I would support such a resolution.

The letter officially responding to the survey is signed by the future President.

Below is the full survey. Windy City Times cited it here and here in stories last year.

We’re not stupid; we know that the President felt it was too politically risky to be pro-marriage equality back in 2008, even with the damning paper trail of this survey.

The moral and ethical backslide to his current position is looking pretty silly at this point, as one prominent Democrat and Republican after another comes out in support of equality. I mean come on, behind Darth Cheney? For god’s sake.

It’s time for the political geniuses in the WH to come up with a better exit strategy to a pro-equality position as the legal cases continue to pose a serious issue for this untenable position.

The recent Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruling on Prop 8 was the handwriting on the wall for the religious right’s “defense of marriage.” Gay Republicans like Ken Mehlman and GOP allies felt it was now safe to decloset after Boies and Olsen made marriage (rightly) a constitutionally conservative issue.

Railing about the evils of the GOP or whether Ken Mehlman deserves an *ss-kicking are irrelevant here — it’s a Democrat in the White House who has a DOJ defending DOMA. No Republican is forcing his hand. No Republican is trotting out “god is in the mix”. And certainly the GOP did not trot David Axelrod out on national television to reiterate that the Fierce Advocate does not support marriage equality, only civil unions – and marriage is a state matter.

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This administration is running out of time if it doesn’t want to look like an obstacle in the fight for marriage equality. The politically craven 2010  edition of Barack Obama will soon be his legacy, having believed that in 2010 the right thing to do is to continue abandoning his 1996 principles. Clearly someone thinks it’s key for a second-term winning strategy. One thing it will do is keep the gAyTM closed.


A thought – what if he was pandering in 1996? Perhaps our President is actually telling the truth now – this constitutional law professor actually believes that civil and religious marriage are one and the same – “god is in the mix.” That he is on the side of NOM – there’s something “sacred” about civil marriage in our society.

His fig leaf, then, is that he believes in separate but equal civil unions. Are we prepared for that answer and what are the consequences if he maintains that position?  

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding