It is far too early to make such assessments of President Obama, but there is a disturbing parallel. He has carefully outlined support for civil unions and his opposition to a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.But as a former law professor, Obama certainly knows -- and the language of the recent California ruling makes frighteningly clear -- the logic of civil unions is essentially the logic of "separate but equal." (Try reading the California decision and the Plessy v. Ferguson opinion consecutively.)...
The president would do well to define this moment by taking immediate action to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" or ensure adoption rights for homosexual, bisexual and transgender families. Kennedy believed that promoting civil rights would jeopardize other aspects of his domestic agenda during a national crisis. Barack Obama has a broader set of crises to resolve than any president in modern history, but that is not a rationale for inaction on this issue.
Ultimately, the gay rights movement will have to learn something that the civil rights movement learned again and again during the 20th century -- it is often necessary to force the hand of even your allies to achieve your goals.
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