Obama evolution on gay marriage It is very difficult not to see President Barack Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage as a political play from start to finish, but his failure to set his personal feelings aside and stand up for the law is even harder to de
"I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman," then-Sen. Obama told Southern California mega-church Pastor Rick Warren in August 2008. "Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix."
His mumblings about being in favor of civil unions and having gay and lesbian friends with children aside, this sounded like quite the definitive statement.
Then, just 10 months ago on the Good Morning America television show, the president's turnaround was complete. It wasn't about God, after all.
"At a certain point, I've just concluded that, 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," he said.
"For me personally" is the key phrase.
The issue was about his personal faith in 2008, while seeking election to the highest office in a nation where believers vastly outnumber non-believers. Then, when his own opinion changed, it was about his personal feelings on the subject.
During that May interview, Obama also criticized the Defense of Marriage Act as trying "to federalize what has historically been state law."
"I continue to believe," he said, "that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage."
Now, as president, Obama's job is to defend federal law, whether he likes it or not. He declined to do so in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed by large congressional majorities in 1996 that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal benefits, and permits states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Like the president's stand for the sacred union of heterosexual marriage in 2008, his contention that marriage law is a state-by-state decision has been definitively abandoned.
In a filing to the Supreme Court, the Obama Justice Department calls on the court to strike down Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment passed by the voters of California in 2008, overturning a state Supreme Court decision that struck down a 2000 law, also approved by voters, that defined marriage in California as the union of one man and one woman.
The Obama administration's legal argument is that by granting the same rights under civil unions, California is denying them equal protection under the law under the 14th Amendment. If adopted by the justices, this interpretation would also upend the civil union laws of Delaware, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon and Rhode Island.
So much for sacred unions, and the federalism of the Constitution, a document Obama has twice pledged to "preserve, protect and defend."
The president's personal feelings have changed. And, apparently, that is all that ever mattered.
Obama's personal feelings have changed. And, apparently, that is all that ever mattered.