I will admit, I was totally surprised by this. We all knew he was doing an interview today and that he’d likely be asked about this topic, but I figured he’d continue weasel-wording his way through it as he’s done in the past. I was in no way expecting him to say that he supports marriage equality.
But on second thought, it doesn’t seem like as big a deal as I first thought it did.
I mean, yes, it’s great to hear him say it. His views had been “evolving” for a long time. But did anyone really think he didn’t deep down support marriage equality? He stated back in 1996 that he supported it. Then he became a national figure and he backtracked. But his administration has refused to defend DOMA. Now Obama himself has finally come out of the closet in favor of it, and it’s nice to hear him finally say so.
But he said that he still supports letting states decide the issue on their own.
So it’s not like his words are going to translate into further action.
Some people think Obama acted cowardly by waiting until after North Carolina voted on Amendment One yesterday. But would his words really have made a difference there? As Ezra Klein pointed out a few weeks ago in the New Yorker, presidential rhetoric rarely moves the ball.
And maybe I’m just a worrier, but I’m concerned that this will get the religious zealots out to the polls in November. Until now they were lukewarm about Mitt Romney. Now they have a reason to go out and vote for him. On the other hand, Romney was always probably going to pick a Christian fundamentalist as his running mate anyway. Probably.
And yet I don’t think Obama would have lost anything by continuing to play the game about “evolving.” I think it might have been politically smarter to hold to that position until after the election. I guess we’ll see.
I still think what he said is significant — not because his words will have an effect in and of themselves, but because if the President of the United States can come out in favor of marriage equality, it shows how mainstream the issue has become.