It’s been quite some time since The Advocate endorsed a candidate. More often than endorse, we train a critical lens on our elected leaders. In September 2009 this publication ran a cover image, a take on the ubiquitous “Hope” Obama image in which we replaced the text with “Nope?” That was, after all, a moment in which Dick Cheney was more outspoken in support of same-sex marriage than was the president.
We took the president to task for the pace of change on LGBT rights, and we were right to do so. That is our mission as a publication, and it is our duty as individual members of an equality movement. And the push was not unwelcome; the president has said to LGBT groups on many occasions that he needs the push we collectively provide. So we push.
None of us here can divine what President Obama personally believed or currently believes on the subject of marriage equality, but we’d be obtuse to imagine that he would ever say he was “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality if he weren’t planning to be fully evolved while still in office, when such an evolution could have a positive, material effect. He evolved, even though some of us were quite skeptical in the meantime.
It’s got to be a bruising process, if the theories of Obama’s long game — working tirelessly but quietly behind the scenes to cultivate momentum before pushing for action — are to be believed. If the president has always been in favor of our equality and has been long working toward it silently, thereby depriving himself of the laurels we’d bestow upon a more fierce but less effective advocate, then he’s certainly taken some lumps from our side while we march and protest and chain ourselves to the White House gates. But the long game seems to be real, and it appears to be working.
So is the president’s problematic state-by-state solution to marriage equality an indication of his true thoughts on the matter, or should we view this as part of a long game too? The Justice Department, at Obama’s direction, is no longer defending portions of the Defense of Marriage Act. Is state-by-state, painful in the short term, really a way to accumulate more “unconstitutional” judgments in the lawsuits against DOMA? I don’t pretend to know. In the meantime, we will push. But for now, we celebrate.