… and Joe Biden started it.
I know Joe has the tendency to put his foot in his mouth when he speaks off the cuff like this, but in this case it happened to force the issue on something that President Obama has been sitting on for a very long time. He’s said in the past that his views on same sex marriage were “evolving” (which I interpreted to mean “We’ll see how things go if I get re-elected in November”), but now that Joe – either by happenstance or by design – opened the door for Obama to finally solidify his position. I’m sure you know the rest, but this is for posterity (transcript from ThinkProgress) …
OBAMA: I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point 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.
Of course, this isn’t a complete game changer. He said that this is a position he holds “personally”; whether this will eventually translate into something on the order of national policy remains to be seen. I, for one, am skeptical … especially since the conservative mantra these days is “states’ rights”, and pushing anything resembling a federal mandate would virtually be considered an act of treason by people like The Great Orange Speaker and his sidekick, Fairweather Catholic. Just look at the individual mandate for health care.
The response from Democrats was pretty overwhelming, and positive:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
“Today marks progress for the civil rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans. With President Obama’s support, we look forward to the day when all American families are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
“Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history. [...]
“Throughout American history, we have worked to live up to our values of liberty and freedom, and to end discrimination in all of its forms. Today, we took another step forward in our march toward equality.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA):
“Earlier this year, President Obama took a major step towards vindicating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to marry when he announced his refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act’s blatant discrimination against us.Today he has taken the next logical step to complete the process by expressing his support for our right to marry people of the same sex. [...]
This does not meant that the President’s decision today was entirely without some political risk, but I believe it will be clear in the days ahead that this will cost him no votes, since those opposed to legal equality for LGBT people were already inclined to oppose him, and that it will make it easier for us to mobilize the people in this country who oppose discrimination to help reelect him.”
The response from the GOP was unsurprising …
Reince Priebus (RNC Chair):
“While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that,”
“I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not.”
… and then there was the social conservative opinion channel Fox “News”, which offered this gem before taking it down. You can never remove something from the Internet, guys.
Meanwhile, the rest of the rational world doesn’t really see what the problem is with marriage being one thing in the eyes of the state and another thing in the eyes of the church and whatever god you happen to believe in. Still, if there’s a chance to clutch at their pearls and run to the fainting couch with a case of the vapors, they’ll take it and milk it for all it’s worth.
Speaking of …
It actually sounds more like Bill’s broken loose from his moorings from reality and is floating around the same region of space inhabited by other conspiracy theorists like Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh, the entire GOP primary field, and those three weird guys Fox Mulder used to hang out with on the X-files. Even the Great Catholic Hope has to know with absolute certainty that there’s literally no chance whatsoever Obama would ever really do this, but he simply can’t help himself when an opportunity to spread a little crazy comes along.
It’s funny that he mentions polygamy, though … if God appeared to bless such righteous people as Abram, Lamech, Esau, Jacob, Solomon (wow), Rehoboam, Abijah, and Gideon … you think Bill would welcome such a faithful return to the “traditional” definition of marriage.