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Obama and His Marriage Equality Surrogates

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Wednesday Mar 21, 2012
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First Lady Michelle Obama provided another glimpse into her husband’s oft referenced and sometimes-mocked evolution on marriage for same-sex couples during a fundraiser for his re-election campaign in Manhattan on Monday. She once again suggested to supporters that the appointments of Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan could very well determine the future of nuptials for gays and lesbians in this country.

"Let’s not forget the impact their decisions will have on our children’s lives for decades to come-on their privacy and security; on whether they can speak freely, worship openly, and love whomever they choose," said Michelle Obama, as reported by the New York Observer. "That is what’s at stake. That’s the choice that we’re working for."

The White House remains all too quick to point out the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes law and the decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act as proof of the administration’s continued commitment to LGBT Americans. A growing number of LGBT activists, however, have grown increasingly critical of the president’s failure to publicly endorse nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Is it possible for the president to adopt a position that satisfies these critics and self-described moderate voters who may not support nuptials for same-sex couples?

One needs to simply look to the growing list of campaign surrogates and administration officials who back marriage equality for the answer to this rather obvious question.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and 22 U.S. senators are among those who have backed a proposal that would add marriage equality to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced his support of nuptials for same-sex couples last November. Even self-described conservative Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has urged Obama to evolve on the issue once and for all.

A Gallup poll last May found that 53 percent of Americans now support marriage for same-sex couples. The same survey indicated that 69 percent of Democrats back nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Is this enough cover for Obama to complete his evolution on marriage before the general election?

This White House has certainly done more for LGBT Americans than any other administration, but incumbents are not known for bold proclamations in support of marriage for same-sex couples and other controversial social issues during tight re-election campaigns. Activists who expect the president to fully evolve on marriage before November remain woefully naive.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.

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