We know the story well: Barack Obama was for same-sex “marriage” (1996) before he was against it (2004) before he was for it (2012), although in 2008, he was apparently for it and against it (although mainly against it). Based, however, on his strong support for gay activism during his “against” years, it seems clear that he was equivocating in his public opposition to same-sex “marriage.”
But let’s say his views really were evolving, as he claims. Either way, whether equivocating or evolving, he has proven himself to be untrustworthy in this very important matter.
Let’s first consider what appears obvious to many, namely that Mr. Obama has been anything but straightforward when expressing his views on same-sex “marriage.”
It is now common knowledge that he responded to questions posed by the Outline newspaper in 1996 by stating plainly that, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Flip-flopping in 2004, he explained, “My religious faith dictates marriage is between a man and a woman, gay marriage is not a civil right.”
In 2008, in the presidential debate hosted by Rick Warren, he stated, “I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman. As a Christian it’s also a sacred union.” That same year, in a letter to San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, Obama wrote that he opposed “the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California constitution” with regard to marriage – quite an odd position for someone who could state that “marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” Why, then, would it be “divisive and discriminatory” to amend a state constitution to protect that sacred union?
Since 2008, Obama has aggressively supported the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, decided to stop defending DOMA, appointed men like gay educational activist Kevin Jennings as his Safe School Czar, and appeared at fundraisers for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), even stating at their dinner in October, 2011 that progress comes when “a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her wife.” Yet it is only now that he can tell us that he endorses same-sex “marriage”? No wonder that Joe Solmonese, outgoing president of the HRC, said earlier this week that there was “no doubt in my mind that the president shares these values.” In other words, the president has not been forthcoming in his true position.
But what if Obama’s views really have been evolving and he was telling the truth when he said in 2010, “My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this”? In my opinion, this would be even more disconcerting than if he were equivocating, since it would mean that his clear and unambiguous statements are subject to change at any time and that his religious convictions are as malleable as a piece of clay.
Let’s link together his most salient statements in one long quote: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages. . . . My religious faith dictates marriage is between a man and a woman, gay marriage is not a civil right. . . . I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman. As a Christian it's also a sacred union. . . . 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. . . . The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
Remember that these are the words of the man who today is the most influential political leader in the world, and yet his waffling on the marriage issue is painful to behold. And these are the words of a leader who makes frequent reference to his professed Christian faith, first to oppose same-sex “marriage” (“my religious faith dictates”; “as a Christian”), then to endorse it (with reference to “Christ sacrificing himself” and “the golden rule”). How deep could this “religious faith” be? And where was this “religious faith” in 1996 when he unequivocally supported redefining marriage?
I understand, of course, that all of us are on a journey and that, over time, our views can change, sometimes radically. But for a national leader (and President of the United States) to make such extreme shifts, from dogmatically “for” to dogmatically “against” to dogmatically “for,” often in patently self-contradictory ways, is to be untrustworthy as a leader. And to refer to one’s faith as an important part of the flip-flopping decision making process is to be spiritually double-minded, which is why I say that whether equivocating or evolving, President Obama is wrong either way.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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