Obama finally 'evolves' on same-sex marriage
By Dale McFeatters
So, President Barack Obama has finally endorsed same-sex marriage, a position he held in 1996 and later reversed for his campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the White House.
By 2010 his position was, he said, "evolving," and it continued evolving as late as Monday if his beleaguered and bobbing and weaving press secretary, Jay Carney, can be believed.
By Wednesday afternoon he was on network television to say, "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."
There. He said it. And the political sky didn't fall ― just as it didn't two years ago when "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed ― because most Americans, particularly younger ones, have moved on.
Obama's acceptance of the inevitable was hardly a profile in courage. He was pretty much forced into it by Vice President Joe Biden, who endorsed it on Sunday, earning a mild rebuke from the president that his veep had "got a little out over his skis," and by his education secretary, Arne Duncan, on Monday.
Obama had to act and it was better he act now than let it drag on into the campaign, where his reticence would have offended his own supporters. Republican social conservatives aren't going to vote for him no matter what he does.
Obama has been called timid, cowardly, vacillating and evasive on the issue ― and those are people on his side. He had been "evolving" on the issue so long that columnist Ruth Marcus observed, "Even Darwin would have lost patience by now."
Likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney characteristically seemed to be trying to have it both ways. Earlier this year, he endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage ― and, in fact, said he would introduce one as president ― and asserted the issue of what rights gay couples should have is best left to the states.
And Republicans are not unanimous on the issue. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, no one's idea of a gooey liberal, endorsed gay marriage on a state-by-state basis in 2004, and gave it blanket endorsement in 2009.
True, North Carolina on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, as have 29 other states.
But this country has an unlimited supply of people who feel called upon to involve themselves in others' private affairs, and if current social and cultural trends are any indicator, one day these bans will be regarded as quaint relics of a less-tolerant era.
The writer is an editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service (www.scrippsnews.com).