Gay Patriot Header Image

Had Obama moved forward on same-sex civil unions when his party had majorities in both houses of Congress, he might not be facing outcry over his gay marriage stand today

Yesterday, when I announced my determination to slow down the pace of blogging this week, I had intended to post only a handful of pieces on gay issues, first to indication my opposition to North Carolina’s Amendment One, then to offer a followup on the Grenell Matter, noting how that latter showed not the anti-gay animus that some Democratic partisans and gay activists were determined to find in the GOP, but the party’s own awkwardness on gay issues (for more on that, just read the passage I quoted in this post from the Huffington Post‘s Jon Ward).

Where the presumptive Republican nominee has handled social conservative concerns about a gay staffer in a most awkward manner, his Democratic counterpart has shown incredible “cowardice,” as one blogger put it, in handling the issue of gay marriage.  Bruce blogged that Obama “stepped in it.”  Others have been even less forgiving.

The real problem is that Obama didn’t try to find some sort of compromise in the first two years of his term when he had overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.  Had he had some significant political savvy, he might, for example, have sat down with gay leaders and pointed to the passage of Prop 8 in California, saying that it wouldn’t be prudent to push forward on gay marriage per se, but would instead focus on civil unions (touting such legislation as the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (H.R. 2517), a bill in the 111th Congress “which would grant domestic partners access to federal employee health care benefits“); he would have been wise to ask these leaders to identify key Republicans (e.g. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House and Susan Collins in the Senate) who would be willing to help spearhead such efforts.

The Democrat would then be able to point to efforts (likely successful) he had made to advance the cause of same-sex couples.  There might not be a public outcry over gay marriage had he had accomplished something in terms of federal recognition of same-sex civil unions, even if just for government employees.

The problem is that the president didn’t do much (if anything) to press for congressional action benefiting gay couples when he his party had majorities in both houses of Congress.  And even as gay bloggers were clamoring for action, the heads of certain gay groups accepted Obama’s excuses for inaction.

Simply put, when the president had a chance, he didn’t move forward on civil unions.  He didn’t show his much-heralded skills as a calm negotiator, able to bring people together, and attempt to forge a workable compromise on state recognition of gay marriages.  Instead, he just punted, promising that he would get to the matter when had a moment.  He sensed that gay groups would still rally ’round him.

And all too many of his gay supporters did just that; they took the Democrat at his word.  Maybe they should have been reading Jim Geraghty’s blog; they would have known that all Obama promises come with an expiration date.



  1. When the press sexretary gets laughed at by his peers you know it’s an issue that’s not going well for the POTUS.

    Comment by Richard Bell — May 8, 2012 @ 8:04 pm - May 8, 2012

  2. Many Gays continue to buy the line of the Democratic party. They need to quit paying attention to the slogans and start paying attention to the actions of the politicians. Support those politicians who actually walk the walk instead of just talk the talk. I have several gay friends who believed the hype surrounding Obama, and they called me numerous names and other things for disbelieving in him. I still consider them friends, even though a few of them think I’m a neanderthal republican, instead of a Conservative Libertarian which I am. I vote for those who support the same issues as I do. And they have to prove it with their actual votes on legislation, not a sound bite on the 5 o’clock news.

    Comment by Mark — May 8, 2012 @ 8:45 pm - May 8, 2012

  3. If Amendment 1 passes tonight, should Democrats move their convention? Quite the dilemma. Dis Obama’s biggest donors, or dis a critically important electoral state.

    You know gay activists would demand the GOP move their convention if the shoe were on the other foot.

    Comment by V the K — May 8, 2012 @ 10:44 pm - May 8, 2012

  4. Obama believed fixing the healthcare system was more important than gay marriage and I can’t fault him for that. He wanted to first use any political capital he had on the healthcare bill. After that passed, he had pretty much burned any bridges necessary for getting much done for gay rights. And even then he’s done more for gays than any president ever.

    You can blame his mishandling of the healthcare bill. Once he burned those bridges it made no political sense to try to advance gay unions . It would have gone anywhere and is too politically risky. Yeah, there have been polls that hint things are changing. But the only poll that matters is the votes that are cast and everytime gay marriage (and the vast majority of times civil unions) is put to a vote it’s failed.

    Comment by aj — May 9, 2012 @ 12:09 am - May 9, 2012

  5. That’s what? 31 tries 31 fails? Maybe the strategy of “Call everyone who disagrees with you a bigot and protest in the streets” isn’t working out

    Comment by Kyle — May 9, 2012 @ 1:06 am - May 9, 2012

  6. Speaking of Obama having the majority in both Houses of Congress, why didn’t he push for amnesty for illegal aliens “comprehensive immigration reform,” either?

    It just doesn’t make sense when Obama must’ve known that in the 2nd half of his term he might not have the majority to fulfill all those promises he made, and he should make all effort to get “things” done while he had the chance.

    He can’t keep blaming “the previous administration,” the TEA Party, or those wascally Republican’s for his failing to keep his promises. Especially when he was handed a free pass to do whatever he wanted on the first day of his administration.

    Hmmm… could it be that he truly believes he’s the Chicago Jesus? And no matter what, he cannot be touched?

    Comment by MVH — May 9, 2012 @ 2:14 am - May 9, 2012

  7. Obama is a manipulative opportunist who knew, just as most Democrats do, that as long as he keeps dangling the carrot of equality before the gay left, they will continue to fill his campaign coffers and give him votes. He also knows that for many gays and lesbians that lean a bit more to the conservative side on fiscal issues, once they have achieved their long-sought after equality, their need to keep voting for Democrats will be gone…and so will their money.

    So, it’s in his best interests to continue to keep hemming and hawwing and “evolving” on gay issues because for every LGBT voter that might get fed up & not vote for him, there will be 100 more that will still hold onto that tiny bit of hope he throws their way. And as long as they have that hope, and as long as Republicans keep pulling crap like Amendment 1, Obama can keep vilifying them & claim “I’m from the party that loves gays, so give me your money & vote for me!”…even if in reality, he only loves them for what they can do for him.

    Comment by Kristie — May 9, 2012 @ 2:22 am - May 9, 2012

  8. So, for LGBT voters there is one issue above all else?

    Comment by Richard Bell — May 9, 2012 @ 7:14 am - May 9, 2012

  9. I think part of the problem of gay marriage is “all or nothing.” The gay establishment didn’t want civil unions. Although it is well known that Liberals tend to work for incremental improvements, they didn’t do this with gay marriage. Had they worked for domestic partnership laws, most states would have acceded; however, the Prop 8 laws showed their hand. They wanted the big prize, not the consolation award. They ended up with nothing.

    Comment by anon23532 — May 9, 2012 @ 11:14 am - May 9, 2012

  10. Seriously, if he had tried to move forward on this in the first half of his term, you would have kicked and screamed that he was taking precious time away from focusing on the economy…..

    [And your evidence, Alan? Please reconsider your comment in light of my posts on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. Thanks! –Dan]

    Comment by Alan — May 9, 2012 @ 7:41 pm - May 9, 2012

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.