He’s Evolved

by Stephen H. Miller on May 9, 2012

Good. David Boaz takes a look at Obama’s evolution, devolution and re-evolution and concludes “Nevertheless, he’s in the right place now.” For politicians, let us not forget, it’s all politics. Sorry, but it is.

Having an equivocal position on marriage equality from the leader of the party gay people fund and devote thousands of volunteer hours to support is not acceptable in 2012. Obama has finally come to terms with that.

Now, onward the fight. It will take both parties supporting legal equality for gay citizens in order to ensure our rights are respected and protected. It’s often pointed out that GOP candidates backed by Tea Party groups combine fiscal conservatism with an anti-gay social agenda, including support for a constitutional amendment that would federalize marriage and impose one definition from Washington on the states. But there is no inherent, immutable reason why those favoring constitutional restraints on government in all other areas should support government intrusion into the most intimate of personal relationships. Many Western European conservative leaders have come to realize this. In the U.S., libertarians have long supported personal liberty that encompasses freedom from government with regard to confiscatory taxation and over-regulation, along with expanded civil liberties and equal rights under the law without discrimination.

The fact that today’s Republican party staunchly opposes gay equality should signal that this is where our efforts should be focused.

{ 13 comments }

clayton May 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

When Romney responded to Obama’s statement today, he looked scared out of his mind. He had been trotting out the “Obama and I have the same position on gay marriage ” lie in an effort to appeal to centrists. That strategy is dead now, and this may be the end of the Republican strategy of using homophobia to motivate the base. Obama has pulled this conversation tobthe left, and within a few years, the Republicans will have to follow if thryvare to remain socially relevant.

Carl May 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I should be pleased, but I have to admit the whole thing depresses me. Obama only gave support for gay marriage because of various blunders from his team which put him in this position (if he’d kept quiet, he would have been attacked from both sides…if he’d said he doesn’t support gay marriage, he would have faced a huge backlash from gay donors without any real addition in support from social conservatives, who already loathe and fear him). He comes across as craven and calculating, which means no one is going to question their own opposition to gay marriage. Even worse, this means gay marriage will become a huge issue, in ways that will all be bad – Republicans will embrace hatred of gays to show they are not like Obama. If Obama loses, then the media and both parties will say it’s because of gay marriage. If Obama wins, the media and both parties will say it’s in spite of gay marriage.

Meanwhile, the supposedly widespread support of civil unions is now exposed as a fraud. North Carolina voters happily support an amendment that bans any legal protections for unmarried couples, and may even throw out domestic violence laws for unmarried couples. Colorado, often touted as some type of emerging state, has a legislature which feverishly worked to block civil unions, even if it meant killing bills which were important to their party. Mitt Romney, endlessly touted as a moderate, a sensible business conservative who was just waiting until he could stop courting the far right, has shrugged off any pretense of moderation and instead endorses the idea that civil unions are unacceptable and that the best he can support is wills or the like, whatever “the like” means. This means the GOP is going backwards from where they were in 2004. 8 years and constant talk about how homosexuality was a non-issue, and what do we have to show for it? A Presidential candidate who has repeatedly shown less support than President Bush, who claimed to support civil unions and didn’t throw his campaign staff to the wolves if they had the misfortune of being gay. And this is before his running mate is chosen, who is most likely going to be even more conservative than Mitt.

The biggest irony in all this is that GOPProud and Log Cabin Republicans, who, understandably, have little time or patience for Obama’s sudden, convenient, empty gay marriage support, are now stuck spending time and money on a candidate who is more anti-gay than the President Log Cabin opposed 8 years ago!

So much for time being our friend and gay marriage becoming accepted and tolerance winning out and how we just need to clap louder and all the rest. Obama and Romney are regressing the national and political conversation further and further, and Romney is going to get a big boost for being so far to the right, meaning other Republicans will do the same. It’s just a mess, and sets a tone that will likely hurt far more than just same-sex relationships.

Tom Scharbach May 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm

The biggest irony in all this is that GOPProud and Log Cabin Republicans … are now stuck spending time and money on a candidate who is more anti-gay than the President Log Cabin opposed 8 years ago!

Why the hell are they stuck?

Pro-equality Republicans have the ability, I assume, to do what pro-equality Democrats have done for years — withhold support from anti-equality candidates within our party (and believe me, we’ve got some anti-equality doozies lurking around in parts of our party where the sun don’t shine, not to mention our share of political cowards). Nobody has to drink the Kool-Aid, you know.

GOProud is such a bunch of gerbils that they’d have supported Santorum, so I don’t look to them to do anything. But LCR has balls, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them tell Romney to take a hike.

Carl May 10, 2012 at 12:19 am

“Why the hell are they stuck?”

They already tried to make a statement about anti-gay views in the GOP, back in 2004, and it got them nothing but scorn. They can either become Democrats, which they clearly aren’t interested in doing, or they can stay in their place, and support a man who will likely never hire gay people again and who opposes most legal protections for gay couples. Based on their comments today, it looks like they’re going for the latter option.

Jorge May 10, 2012 at 1:22 am

Even worse, this means gay marriage will become a huge issue, in ways that will all be bad – Republicans will embrace hatred of gays to show they are not like Obama. If Obama loses, then the media and both parties will say it’s because of gay marriage. If Obama wins, the media and both parties will say it’s in spite of gay marriage.

Then it won’t be because of the end of DADT. Or the failure to pass ENDA or issue a limited executive order mirroring it. Or Mitt Romney’s gay staff member resigning (Sheesh! Anyone remember Rick Santorum’s gay staffer resigning?). It won’t be because of the It Gets Better Project. Or a number of other things that taken together represent at least some steps forward. So let it be gaymarriage that people gnash their teeth over.

But I think one thing I learned recently is not to get caught up in flashy news stories and to think back to what I’ve said and done before, to go back to my own agenda. I think the things I celebrate are good enough to tell people about.

The biggest irony in all this is that GOPProud and Log Cabin Republicans, who, understandably, have little time or patience for Obama’s sudden, convenient, empty gay marriage support, are now stuck spending time and money on a candidate who is more anti-gay than the President Log Cabin opposed 8 years ago!

I’m forced to agree with that.

It’s not that I think Romney is a bad guy. I think he has the potential to be a great president for all Americans. But he is not a man of political courage. He is a salesman.

Carl May 10, 2012 at 1:45 am

“Then it won’t be because of the end of DADT. Or the failure to pass ENDA or issue a limited executive order mirroring it. Or Mitt Romney’s gay staff member resigning (Sheesh! Anyone remember Rick Santorum’s gay staffer resigning?). It won’t be because of the It Gets Better Project. Or a number of other things that taken together represent at least some steps forward. So let it be gaymarriage that people gnash their teeth over.”

None of those got the amount of attention this is getting. The amount of furor built up by Obama supporting gay marriage – and the horrible way it was bungled opening him up to criticism of fakery and pandering (which takes away one of the most potent attacks on Romney – is much more prominent than any of the gay rights topics of the last few years. This is pure 2004 culture wars, where gays got all the blame for Kerry’s bad campaign.

Jorge May 11, 2012 at 2:19 am

None of those got the amount of attention this is getting.

Precisely my point. They still happened. They’re still having some influence on people’s hearts and minds.

Doug May 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

If Romney isn’t a bad guy why was he bullying a gay student in high school. Looks to me like he is finally consistent on one issue. He was anti gay in high school and he is still anti gay today.

Carl May 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I’m more concerned by more recent behavior, like the people who in the early 90′s heard him call homosexuality “perverse” and “reprehensible.” Or the woman he fired from state government in 2004 or 2005, with some speculation that it was due to her being a lesbian.

I think focusing on his school days just makes him look like a martyr and will inspire the usual LIBERAL MEDIA LIBERAL MEDIA LIBERAL MEDIA histrionics.

Tom Scharbach May 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

He had been trotting out the “Obama and I have the same position on gay marriage ” lie in an effort to appeal to centrists.

Well, Romney can always try “Obama and I have the same position on civil unions …” since President Obama said in his statement today that he no longer supports marriage-equivalent civil unions as a viable solution, and Romney reiterated his opposition to civil unions twice this afternoon.

Whatever works, I guess.

The fact that today’s Republican party staunchly opposes gay equality should signal that this is where our efforts should be focused.

I think that pro-equality Republicans and conservatives should focus on the Republican Party, and I think that those of us who are liberal/progressives should continue to work with Republicans willing to work with us (e.g. the three Republican members of the Equality Caucus).

But those of us who are liberals/progressives, and in particular those of us who are active in the Democratic Party, know how much work remains to be done within our own party. Let’s not lose sight of that … we have a long, long way to go before marriage equality becomes reality.

William May 10, 2012 at 3:31 am

The fact that today’s Republican party staunchly opposes gay equality should signal that this is where our efforts should be focused.
Fine, if you’re otherwise very much limited government inclined, or see other problems with the Democrats. And if you’re willing to devote serious energy on the Republican side. That’s an argument for those who are active, it’s not something to convince a politically interested voter. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of my own political activity is in a similar mode.

There’s now a serious gulf between the two parties’ candidates on the question of whether gay couples should be allowed to marry. Obama is in favour, Romney has pledged to ban it in all 50 states.

I love moderate Republicans. Your Tom Campbells, your Dede Scozzafavas, your Olympia Snowes. But be realistic about what you’re asking anyone to sign on to, in terms of the energy expended.

I am an optimist. As someone remarked that 2008 will be the last time a Democratic presidential candidate will be officially opposed to equal marriage. I said that it wouldn’t shock me if 2016 was the equivalent for the Republicans, certainly 2020.

But whatever about eight or twelve years from now, right now, in this electoral cycle, there is little good reason for a gay American to vote for the Republican candidate, for a party that is still willing to use animus against gay people for electoral advantage, and pander to the worst aspects of its own party. (By the by, because of infringements on civil liberties and the conduct of war, I’d still be torn between Obama and Johnson).

William May 10, 2012 at 3:35 am

Really shouldn’t have left Susan Collins out, given DADT. My point was about good Republicans who failed electorally, or in the case of Snowe got fed up, given the likelihood of a strong primary challenge and an increasingly lonely position within the GOP Congressional caucus. There are many others one could mention.

Jorge May 11, 2012 at 2:25 am

But whatever about eight or twelve years from now, right now, in this electoral cycle, there is little good reason for a gay American to vote for the Republican candidate

Sure there is. Barack Obama is not a good president, and the Republican candidates are good enough. He is an arrogant, petulant, hyperpartisan man who says mean things to people who disagree with him.

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