“I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Barack Obama said today. It’s a relief to know that President Obama no longer believes that there’s something wrong with loving same-sex couples getting married.
After the ridiculous vote in North Carolina in favor of a constitutional amendment banning equality of marriage law for heterosexual and homosexual couples, President Obama’s opposition to marriage equality became untenable. Obama’s aides saw the revulsion which the North Carolina vote caused outside of the South, and realized that the Obama re-election campaign was about to be stuck in the company of the country’s worst bigots.
So, thanks for making it clear, President Obama, that you personally think that North Carolina made the wrong decision. Welcome to the 21st century – 12 years late.
But now, Mr. President, what are you going to DO about it?
It looks like President Obama intends to do nothing. He said that his newfound acceptance of the idea that homosexual couples deserve equal rights is just personal. Even as he stated this new personal opinion, Obama declared that he still believes that states should have the right to vote to ban same sex marriage.
That places Barack Obama still on the wrong side, when it counts. It places President Obama still on the side of the bigots in North Carolina.
That’s because it’s not really the job of the President of the United States to express his personal opinions and leave it at that. It’s the job of the President of the United States to be the chief executive. It’s the President’s job to act.
And so, what Barack Obama has said today is that yes, he personally believes that it’s fine for same-sex couples to get married, but that as President he will not lift a finger to give them the right to do so. When bigots in backwards states like North Carolina decide to enact bans against marriage equality, Obama won’t do a thing to stop them.
That’s not just a betrayal of the gays and lesbians. It’s a betrayal of the Constitution and the rule of law.
The rule of law in the United States of America is founded upon the national Constitution, not the authority of the states. States cannot pass laws of any sort that contradict the rights guaranteed by the national Constitution, and the national Constitution requires equality under the law.
Barack Obama’s refusal to stand up for that principle is weakening the authority of the Constitution, and is, therefore, weakening the ability of anyone, heterosexual or homosexual to trust that their legal rights are going to be respected. Obama’s new position is akin to that of Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War. President Lincoln was happy to allow slavery to continue, just so long as there wasn’t a war fought between the states over the matter.
Lincoln’s wishy washy position against national abolition of slavery could not save the union, and it made for a weak moral position during the initial part of the Civil War. The only way that Abraham Lincoln could turn around his failed policy was to finally take executive action against slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Barack Obama is often likened to Abraham Lincoln – but right now, what we’re seeing from Obama is most like a reflection of Lincoln’s worst political instincts. Obama, like Lincoln, is letting a bunch of yahoos from the Carolinas lead the way.
Real leadership from Obama, appropriate to his position, would not allow such mean-spirited erosion of the national authority in order to defend cruel, outdated traditions of inequality. Real leadership would see that, through action of the Supreme Court or through Congress, the disloyal state of North Carolina forced to come back into line with the law of the land, and revise its state constitution to reflect the fact that, in the United States, no group may be given an unequal, inferior legal status.
If President Barack Obama does not take such action, then he has only succeeded today in communicating that he has no intention of using his power to defend the Constitution from domestic threats, as he promised to do when he took the Oath of Office two and a half years ago. If he will not honor his Oath of Office now, he should not be given the chance to dishonestly swear it again.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it, until Barack Obama stands up and takes responsibility in the job that he’s been given: Americans who truly believe in constitutional rights don’t need to vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. There is an alternative for us: Jill Stein, who has prominently supported equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians for many years, and who, just today, endorsed the platform of the New Progressive Alliance, which includes the following plank: “Our country was founded upon a set of principles and ideals that have their most eloquent expression in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Based on these core values, we support equal rights for all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin, or other status, including the right of same-sex couples to marry, and the right of all women to make decisions about their reproductive health.”