Re: the news today that the Maine House of Representatives voted in favor of gay marriage. And the Washington, D.C. city council now recognizes marriages performed elsewhere, which is big news to some in our Atlantic household.
A tipping point of sorts has been reached, and there soon will be plenty of -- hundreds of thousands of, perhaps millions of -- gay couples who are living in unions sanctioned by their state and who will receive the state benefits afforded to married couples.
They'll be entirely unrecognized by the federal government, however, and the thousand or so privileges accorded to married couples by the United States will remain unavailable to them. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon your point of view, but for the campaign version of Barack Obama, it is unfair. He promised, as a candidate, to push for federal recognition of same-sex couples even as he personally reiterated his opposition to gay marriage.
To my knowledge, aside from some work on partnership benefits for federal employees who have such unions, Obama hasn't given this subject much of a thought since becoming President. He's disinclined to wade into culture war stuff now, had other things on his mind, of course, but it seems as if the subject itself is climbing its way onto his agenda. The gay lobby in Washington is powerful and it has been patient.... so far.
Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.