President Obama shook up the debate on gay marriage Wednesday when his Justice Department announced that it will no longer defend a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. The administration will still enforce the federal ban on gay marriage, until Congress acts or the courts offer a "definitive verdict." But declaring that he thinks the gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional is a big legal shift for Obama, who once taught constitutional law. Since Obama is on record as favoring same-sex civil unions but opposing gay marriage, is this a personal shift, too? (Watch White House spokesman Jay Carney announce Obama is "grappling" with the issue)
Obama is finally coming out on gay marriage: "Did anyone on any part of the political spectrum ever actually believe that Obama opposed gay marriage?" asks Stanley Kurtz in National Review. Of course not. Obama's "centrist mask is slipping." How much longer can he continue resisting "full disclosure of his leftist political allegiances"?
"Obama and DOMA"
Why not take Obama at his word? Obama's not exactly an open book on this issue, says Tabassum Zakaria in Reuters. He said in December that his views on gay marriage are "constantly evolving," and Jay Carney emphasized Wednesday that the president is still "grappling" with the issue. To me, the shift from "evolving" to "grappling" just "doesn't sound like a lot of movement."
"Obama 'grappling' on gay marriage"
Who cares about Obama's personal beliefs? Obama's "personal views" on gay marriage aren't nearly as important as his stance on DOMA, says Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. And he's been consistent there: He campaigned on repealing what he called the "abhorrent" law. Now, with several federal courts agreeing that DOMA is rooted in "moral animus and junk science," Obama is leaving the law's defense to people who believe that stuff. Team Obama "no longer has to."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- 10 burning questions you've always wanted to ask about investing
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week