But right now, Obama could stir up a lot of counterproductive noise and passion with an emphatic position in favor of marriage equality. And while it’s the job of advocates to focus on one issue and amass their armies on a single front, it’s the job of those who govern to promote an array of concerns and serve multiple constituencies. To do any good in office, you have to be in office.
Obama has exhibited more concern for the equal rights of gays and lesbians than his predecessors did. He ended the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He instructed the Justice Department not to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
He brags about this progress, and has a right to. But he shouldn’t expect those of us who support marriage equality to find the sound of that trumpeting so very musical. It’s a tentative, incremental bleat. And it’s especially unsatisfying from a president who’s such a moving, hopeful symbol of this country’s imperfect and incomplete journey toward full respect for all its citizens, no matter their gender, race, creed or sexual orientation.