Let’s tidy this up a bit

Some guy once wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit.”  In that spirit, I’d like to help the New York Times out with a headline.  The original:

Obama Moves Near ‘Greater Equality’ on Gay Marriage

Hmmmm… too wordy.  Let’s just tighten up the phrasing:

Obama Moves Near ‘Greater Equality’ on Gay Marriage Is a Politician

Ah, much clearer.

I would lovelovelovelovelove for the President of the United States to come out full-force in favor of marriage equality.  I would also like a private jet, financed and fueled by an anonymous admirer.  I am spending equal amounts of time holding my breath for both of these outcomes.

I don’t really think Obama’s views on same-sex marriage are “evolving.”  I think he’s probably fine with us getting hitched.  (For what it’s worth, I don’t really think his predecessor cared all that much either, but was willing to pretend to do so to shore up his cred with social conservatives.)  But let’s be realistic — he’s running for re-election, neither his poll numbers nor the economy are doing so well that 2012 will be a cakewalk, and the GLBT constituency isn’t so all-powerful that our issues are worth the risk.   (Let’s be honest with ourselves about that last one, brothers and sisters.)

Unlike many of my softball-team-qualifying confreres, I happen to think the POTUS has been pretty damn good on our issues.  DADT has finally gone the way of the dodo.  They’re not defending DOMA in court.  There may be some daylight on immigration reform for foreign-born partners of US citizens.  These are not small things, and are a hell of a lot better than what we’d be getting were someone from the GOP in office right now.  Furthermore, with the apparent exception of being able to bomb the smithereens out of whatever he wants, the President has some constraints on what he can actually do.  Given that the Republicans in Congress are willing to play chicken with the world economy, the chances for any kind of movement on federal recognition of same-sex marriage are somewhere between “diddly” and “squat.”  Obama’s taking a firm stand on the issue right now is all risk and no benefit.

I understand how crappy the effects of DOMA are on our lives and relationships.  (Believe me.)  But politics ain’t magic, and the President ain’t Albus Dumbledore.  He supports us as on this issue as much as he really can, and impatient demands for more are foolish and counterproductive.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I feel like the president is perhaps loosing more than he realizes by not supporting same-sex marriage (though, of course, he could choose to support it later in the election cycle and reap the rewards). Winning elections isn’t really about the undecideds. It’s about which of the decideds show up.

    SSM is increasingly becoming an important issue to liberals, while conservatives are increasingly sick of the whole business. An election where gay rights issues are a major point of contention is certainly in Obama’s best interest.

    And for that matter, no democratic candidate who does not support gay marriage will win the 2016 primary.

    • Perhaps you’re right, Alan. I would love to see support for SSM be an asset rather than a liability for a candidate. However, having seen up close how handily SSM can lose when put to a popular vote, I remain skeptical that it carries much benefit for a national candidate to be enthusiastic about it.

      That said, the polling has changed in quite an encouraging way, and I agree that 2016 will see a markedly different approach to the issue. But for this President, I don’t see it happening.

      • I’m not sure when support for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act became an asset. Long after they passed (if ever).

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