New Republic executive editor Richard Just writes that President Barack Obama shows the same resistance to marriage equality as President Woodrow Wilson did to gender and racial equality, and if history is any guide, the portrait will be “unflattering” with the passage of time.
Just refers to a timeline of Obama’s position assembled by his colleague James Downie.
“What the timeline shows is a pattern that can only be described as illogical and cynical. Obama argues that he is against gay marriage while also opposing efforts like Prop 8 that would ban it,” he writes. “He justifies this by saying that state constitutions should not be used to reduce rights. (His exact words: ‘I am not in favor of gay marriage, but when you’re playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that that is not what America is about.’) Obama appears to be saying that it is fine to prohibit gay people from getting married, as long as the vehicle for doing so is not a constitution. Presumably, then, he supports the numerous states that have banned same-sex marriage through other means, without resorting to a constitutional amendment? If so, he might be the only person in the country to occupy this narrow, and frankly absurd, slice of intellectual terrain. Obama has also said he favors civil unions rather than gay marriage because the question of where and how to apply the label ‘marriage’ is a religious one. This argument makes even less sense than his stance on state constitutions, since marriage, for better or for worse, is very much a government matter.”
Read more about what Obama’s position might mean for his place in history.