Obama, Marriage And The Gay American Future

An Obama quote from yesterday:

I ... think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that [marriage equality] is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about.

Actually, Obama's attitudes previously evolved in the opposite direction, since he (and his own church) favored marriage rights in 1996, as Dylan Matthews notes. So he was once in favor, then against, but now is leaning for again, but not yet. This pattern, if genuine, makes him almost unique among Americans. How many who were for marriage equality in 1996 are now against it?

This is so patently political it's frankly excruciating to read. But could the last Congress have realistically managed to repeal DOMA within two years in the biggest economic crisis in generations? In the real world, I doubt it, and doubt any president would have expended political capital on it in the circumstances. This is not an excuse; but it is a realistic explanation.

The failure to end DADT - which has massive popular support and is backed by even Bill O'Reilly - is a much bigger indictment of Obama, the Dems and the Human Rights Campaign.

And under Obama, we have done the important work of shifting public opinion and extending the areas where marriage equality is real, if only on a state level. We are, alas, working with a gutless Democratic party and a pathologically anti-gay party of the right. And for the next two years at the very least, the chances of any federal legislation that even acknowledges that gays exist, let alone deserve civil equality, are zero.

As the wider civilized world evolves forward, and America remains trapped in a polarized cultural gridlock, gay Americans will be increasingly be the most discriminated against in the developed world. This, I fear, is the deeper reality of one party captured by religious fundamentalism and another that sees gays as fundraising tools and people to be pitied. We will be alone again, as we fight to change the consciousness of the next generation and beyond.