In a Wednesday interview with ABC, President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage, saying his views on the matter have “evolved.”
He’s lying. The president’s views on same-sex marriage haven’t “evolved.” The truth of the matter is Obama has probably always been comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. In a 1996 questionnaire, Obama wrote, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” It just wasn’t politically expedient for him to admit that until now.
Make no mistake, Obama’s decision to announce his position on same-sex marriage only came after a calculated risk assessment. Had the calculator said "no," Obama would likely have remained mum on the issue.
Let’s break down why Obama decided to finally acknowledge his true opinion on the matter:
For one thing, Vice President Joe Biden essentially forced his hand when he declared on Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same sex marriage. Even though Vice Presidents have taken opposing views on certain issues with their Presidents in the past (e.g. Dick Cheney was in favor of same-sex marriage, while President Bush remained staunchly opposed), Obama was the lagging voice among most prominent Democrats on this issue.
Although North Carolina (which Obama narrowly won in 2008) just passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions by an overwhelming majority, Obama is betting this won’t be a major issue in November. The biggest reason for this is presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney doesn’t have the most consistent stance on same-sex marriage either. When Romney ran for Senate in 1994, he argued he would fight harder for “full equality” for gays and lesbians than his opponent Ted Kennedy, but is currently in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. Additionally, Romney needs to court independents, who are traditionally more accepting of same-sex marriage. These two factors combined may make Romney hesitant to bring this issue into the center of the debate.
So, Obama doesn’t have to worry about the fallout from his decision in November while being able to capitalize on it now. The timing of the announcement, a day after North Carolina’s vote but one day before Obama gets to hob-knob and rub elbows with the pro-same-sex marriage crowd of Hollywood’s elite, is sure to galvanize the base and boost campaign dollars.
I find it interesting Obama didn’t deliver his position in a grandiose speech as he is often does, but rather in an off-the-cuff interview. Still, upon his declaration, supporters immediately took to the web lauding Obama and exclaiming how proud they were of his decision.
But my question to them is: Do you want a president who will stand by his convictions regardless of the political risk? Or one who will admit to certain beliefs only after the political calculator says it’s reasonably safe to do so?