Obama Walks Tightrope on Gay Rights Issue
Why Didn't the Prez Mention Gay Rights in New York?
It's impossible to envy President Barack Obama when it comes to the thorny issue of gay rights. Obama has made it clear he supports gay rights, so his speech Thursday night announcing that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as straight couples should surprise no one. What is interesting, though, was what Obama didn't say in his fund-raising speech in New York, where lawmakers are debating the hotly contested same-sex marriage bill.
Obama could have gained huge brownie points with the well-heeled gay community had he simply said he supported same-sex marriage, but that announcement would risk Obama's standing among many socially conservative folks in the country, especially the influential black clergy that helped propel him to victory in 2008.
So Obama did what any good politician would do: he waffled. Obama, though, can waffle better than most.
With his announcement of "unofficial-official" support last night of gay rights up to but not necessarily including gay marriage, Obama gets the best of both worlds: He keeps his support among gays who know where his heart really is and can say he never ever spoke in favor of same-sex marriage, a distinction that will thrill many in his black conservative base to no end.
There is just one hitch in Obama's dance to balance his support between the gay community and black conservatives. Way back in 1996 -- before he became a global icon -- Obama told the world his true feelings on the issue of gay marriage when he said he supported same-sex marriage while running for the Illinois Senate.
So there it is.
We know President Obama supports same-sex marriage (unless he has undergone a radical change in his thinking and I would bet a lot of money against that), but don't expect Obama to make any big show of what he said back in 1996; for, he is walking the tightrope just fine.