When it comes to the civil rights of same-sex couples residing in the United States, President Barack Obama has the same policy as Dick Cheney: Let the states decide. Let the states decide sounds like a reasonable position until you write it out in its full version: Let the states decide whether to respect the civil rights of same-sex couples.
In terms of the law, it’s a position that completely ignores the existence of the Constitution, which requires equality for all people under the law, and creates a federal government with the duty of seeing to it that the states respect that equality. With his “let the states decide” position, Barack Obama is taking the the same stance that was taken by segregationists who proposed that states be given the power to decide whether to grant civil rights to non-European-Americans.
Besides that, Obama’s decision to pass the buck on down to the states doesn’t deal with unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples on the federal level. President Obama loves to say that he supports civil unions will full legal rights, though he opposes same-sex marriage. What he doesn’t say is that states cannot grant full legal rights to civil unions, even if they want to.
That’s because of federal government discrimination against same-sex couples. Consider as an example the legal difference between married couples and same-sex couples in civil unions when it comes to immigration.
An American citizen can sponsor a foreigner to come live in the United States and become a U.S. citizen through marriage. The same cannot be done through civil unions. Same-sex couples in which one of the people is from a foreign country can be split apart – even if they have children together.
If passed, the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024 in the House and S. 424 in the Senate) would end this discrimination, and give American citizens the right to sponsor foreign born romantic partners for legal residency in the United States. Would Barack Obama sign this bill into law, or would he continue his support of separate and unequal rights according to sexuality?