The evolution is over. President Obama has officially endorsed gay marriage (see video above). He says that civil unions are not sufficient and that gay marriage should be legal. In his own words:
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, 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.
I thought it was interesting that his endorsement was qualified by “for me personally.” As I said in my previous post, my hunch is that he’ll personally endorse gay marriage while advocating policies that don’t go much beyond what he’s already doing. He still has an election to win, and he needs to minimize the electoral damage that he’s doing to himself in places like North Carolina, Virginia, and perhaps even Ohio. That is why it’s not accidental that he says the matter should be left to the states. For a similar analysis from Chuck Todd, see the video below.
Make no mistake, however. If President Obama wins a second term, he will be free to advance gay marriage at the federal level without electoral consequence. I believe that he will do just that if he’s reelected.