Judging from my Facebook feed and anecdotal evidence from friends, many gay people today are celebrating their imminent procurement of the Brooklyn Bridge. Expect them to soon increase their down payment toward that celebrated span.
This swoon, to borrow an expression from Jennifer Rubin, “will take up the political oxygen for a while.” What exactly will this accomplish save to give gay Democrats, already eager to support Obama, a reason to really ’round the Democrat? Will Obama do what he didn’t do when his party had majorities in both houses of Congress, work the phones and otherwise buttonhole legislators to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — as LBJ did in 1964 on behalf of the Civil Rights Act?
Why did he wait until after North Carolina voters passed Amendment One to issue his statement? Today’s comments, quips Christopher R. Barron, Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of GOProud are “cold comfort to the gay couples in North Carolina.” Heck, he didn’t even cut a radio or TV ad opposing the ballot measure.
Wonder if this sudden change of heart had something to do with money. A few weeks ago, Ed Morrissey noted that “Obama remains significantly off of his own 2008 pace of fundraising, and way under the Democratic donation performance of that cycle.” And as Dan Eggen reports in the Washington Post:
Many of Obama’s key financial supporters are gay–including finance director Rufus Gifford and Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias–and the campaign has regularly held fundraisers focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender donors.
A review of Obama’s top bundlers, who have brought in $500,000 or more for the campaign, shows that about one in six publicly identify themselves as gay.
It’s all about the money, friends.
Obama’s self-referential statement included no specifics about what he means to do. It, Philip Klein writes, “has no tangible policy impact — [Obama] still thinks the issue should be left to the states” — pretty much the same position Dick Cheney articulated in the Vice Presidential Debate twelve years ago. And I didn’t hear my gay friends singing hosannas then.
Some gay Democrats just need a token gesture to get all googly-eyed about a Democrat. And the White House’s waffling words on gay marriage had caused much consternation among his gay supporters. Simply put, the president moved to quiet a political firestorm in order to raise some much needed campaign cash.
Indeed, he “stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.” “But what if”, Jennifer Rubin asks, the states “want to ban it?”
She also noted how Obama personalized the matter:
The president said that “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.” Me personally? There’s the cynical Obama still dancing, trying to signal to gay marriage opponents, I suppose, that this is “just” his view.
So, now, we have the president on record supporting gay marriage, but not putting forward any plans to make state recognition of same-sex marriages a reality–not pushing legislation to recognize same-sex civil unions. As on most issues, all we have from Barack Obama is words. And if you really believe he’s going to act upon these words, well, there’s a bridge you might want to buy in Brooklyn.
UPDATE: Allahpundit questions the timing:
His base will swoon over this, needless to say — expect the mother of all leg tingles on “Hardball” tonight — but even as someone who agrees with him, I can’t get past the pure opportunism of it. In fact, fellow gay-marriage supporter Andy Levy flags this NYT tweet in naked disgust:
Some Obama advisers were divided on decision to support same-sex marriage, but concluded his brand has been damaged enough by hedging.
That’s what it was all about: The brand, plus the political awkwardness created by Biden’s candor on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday. I used to ask whether anyone seriously believes O opposes gay marriage. Now I have to start asking whether anyone seriously believes O would have stopped feigning opposition if it was still a clear political winner for him to keep it up. His “courage” here, as in all things, is about his own reelection chances. If there’s anything for gay rights supporters to celebrate today, it’s the fact that popular opinion has shifted enough that even an opportunist as transparent as The One thinks it’s safe enough to take this position before a national election.
NB: Changed the title to make it catchier.
UP-UPDATE: Is Obama “gay for pay“:
President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage less than 48 hours after the Washington Post reported that prominent political donors were threatening to withhold donations over the president’s position on gay rights.