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Courting trouble: where does Obama stand on gay marriage?

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Altered States

Nick O'Malley is the United States correspondent for Fairfax Media.
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Biden 'comfortable' with gay marriage

Vice President Joe Biden says he's now "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage.

PT0M0S 620 349

As I write this the President is nowhere near North Carolina, which would not normally be news, except that the President had said he was going to be in North Carolina today.

North Carolinian polling booths are closing after a primary election in which voters are also expected to vote for a law banning not only gay marriage, but also civil unions. The proposed law is far more radical than others introduced across the South in recent years.

President Obama issued a statement of opposition some weeks ago, but the economic speech he was to have given in the state today disappeared from his schedule last week.

Difficult issue ... Obama's position on gay marriage is still "evolving".

Difficult issue ... Obama's position on gay marriage is still "evolving". Photo: Jason Reed/Reuters

This suggests that his campaign knew gay marriage was a difficult issue before the Vice President, Joe Biden, inadvertently dumped the President in it on Sunday by offering his clear, unequivocal and eloquent for support for gay marriage in a TV interview.

The following day the President’s spokesman blustered heroically when was asked time and time again if he supported gay marriage.

“The President’s position is well known… it is not changed … I can’t update you on the President’s position…” And, best of all, “The President’s position is evolving,”

Voters in North Carolina are expected to vote against gay marriage and civil unions.

Voters in North Carolina are expected to vote against gay marriage and civil unions. Photo: AP

It seems while many of the President’s best friends may be gay, he is not going to be showing up at their weddings six months out of a narrow election.

It was left to Bill Clinton to champion the Democrat’s opposition to the bill, which is interesting in itself since it was President Clinton who sold out his gay supports in 1996 by signing the Defense of Marriage Act. (I know, Bill Clinton defending marriage.)

And in the 2004 presidential election the Republican strategist Karl Rove worked to bundle anti-gay marriage laws onto ballots in 13 states, boosting voter turnout by four per cent, a move some say won Iowa – and thus the presidency – for George W Bush

You can bet that where ever the President is right now, he has some staff working out just what an "evolved position" looks like.

The reading list

James Carville to Democrats: WTFU - CNN

The Occupy movement’s first terrorists - RCP

Rick Santorum’s late, tepid endorsement letter for Mitt Romney - Rick Santorum

Will Obama follow Sarko? - AFP

The problem with women voting - Think Progress

The lonely plight of the gay Republican - Daily Beast

Maurice Sendak and Stephen Colbert -NYT

Number crunch

1 in 6 of Obama’s donation bundlers are gay, the Washington Post reports.

New poll shows Obama increasing his lead over Romney to 49 to 42

The Obama campaign has spent $25 million on advertising in 9 key states this month alone.

Ad watch

Mitt Romney saved my daughter’s life.

How the Tea Party deals with disobedient Republicans.

There are 182 days until the election.

68 comments so far

  • "Joe Biden, inadvertently dumped the President in it on Sunday by offering his clear, unequivocal and eloquent for support for gay marriage in a TV interview."

    Joe Biden's comments were poorly thought out. He said something to the effect of, marriage is simply about 'who do you love'

    Marriage has never been about simply committing to who ever you love.

    Redefining marriage as to include same sex spouses is an enormous societal shift.

    We are playing with fire.

    Commenter
    Norman
    Date and time
    May 09, 2012, 1:16PM
    • Oh what a crock of dung.

      Marriage is a antiquidated practice that should just involve people who love each other commiting to one another. Preferrably without the imaginary friend. However each to their own and if you believe in your imaginary friend then so be it.

      There is no fire.

      There are only people's own bigotted perceptions.

      Commenter
      daisychain
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:30PM
    • Agreed, socity should never change. Switch off the internet, take back the vote for women and appoint George Pell as PM

      Commenter
      Azur
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:33PM
    • Marriage is not about love? What is it about, then. A favourite movie? If you are suggesting that it is about having children, as Cardinal Pell would have us believe, then two widowed or divorced 50 year old man and women wouldn't be allowed to get married, would they.

      Commenter
      The Redman
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:34PM
    • Marriage has mostly been about property and inheritance rights for most of human history. You're definitely playing with fire if you thing that a significant minority deserves to be stripped of control over those rights.

      Redefining marriage to include mixed-race couples was an enormous societal shift (and pretty unpopular in North Carolina, as I recall), but the world hasn't ended. Even South Africa eventually figured out that apartheid was a bad idea - the bigots of the USA might figure it out one day, despite their obvious mental deficiencies.

      Commenter
      The Claw
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:35PM
    • Yikes! Enormous societal shift alert!! Lock up your children and batten down the hatches. Change might be a'comin'!!!

      One just wonders (a) whose society will be tangibly shifted (other than those who achieve humanistic equality), (b) what impact of this "enormous" shift will actually be, and (c) if there is any direct impact on the quality or otherwise of Norman's life as a result of such "playing with fire".

      Commenter
      Kevo
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:48PM
    • Sorry Norman, can you please explain how we are playing with fire by extending basic rights to our fellow human beings? The foundation for marriage in modern times (that's now) is based primarilly on love. Those are the first of the vowes taken in any ceremony. Do you think married homosexuals would be incapable of living as meaningful & productive lives as heterosexuals? Before you suggest that they could not produce children as a reason, this is a mute point as many thousands of couples choose not to have children either. Furthermore, they would be excellent candidates for adopting, given the higher than average income & education levels we see statistically in this minority. For a population that gets demonised, they generally out perfom most other demographics in most life catagories,

      Commenter
      Stand Back
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:49PM
    • Absolutely correct. Marriage has historically been about securing wealth, influence and social standing for the families of those involved via dowries and alliances, while producing the offspring necessary to solidify that economic power base through inheritance.

      Heaven forfend we alter such a sacred institution by introducing irrelevancies like 'love' into the equation. That would just be silly.

      Commenter
      DM
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 1:57PM
    • @Norman...what fire do you predict? The fall of marriage as we know it? They were playing with "fire" when wondering to give women the vote, black people seats on the bus...please expand on FIRE. Yes I am gay Norman and am a second class citizen in this country as I do not have the law on my side to marry. Do you have children? What if one of your children came out to you and wanted your blessing to marry his/her partner? Fire?....

      Commenter
      JOhn
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 2:10PM
    • Playing with fire? What's going to happen? We'll have a few more committed people marrying those that they love - why would that be so bad?

      Commenter
      Mel
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 09, 2012, 2:10PM

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