With New York lawmakers earning praise for legalizing same-sex marriage, and polls showing a majority of Americans supporting it, "now would seem to be a good time" for President Obama to "jump on board with gay-marriage advocates," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. But when asked at a press conference Wednesday about his "evolving" position, Obama said he wasn't "going to make news on that today." Still, he came awfully close to endorsing gay marriage, and said he believed New York's new law is "a good thing." Why won't he just say "I support gay marriage"? Here, four theories:
1. It wouldn't play well in swing states
The bottom line for Obama is that "he has more to lose than gain in coming out in favor of same-sex marriage," says Devin Dwyer at ABC News. With the 2012 election looming, the president wants to "avoid alienating voters in battleground states, like Ohio and Nevada," where gay marriage isn't so popular. It also doesn't poll well with black and Latino voters, says The Washington Post's Blake, and "Obama needs them in 2012."
2. Same-sex marriage is a state decision, not a federal one
Obama clearly "sees legalized gay marriage as the future," says Chris Good at The Atlantic. But "in the interim, his official political stance is one of states' rights." And that's the right call, says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. "Civil marriage has always been a state matter in the U.S." — or it was, until the GOP "seized federal control" with the Defense of Marriage Act. C'mon, says gay-rights advocate Richard Socarides, as quoted by ABC News. The states' rights excuse is "a cynical political position." "Would the president have thought it right to let the states decide on the issue of interracial marriage"?
3. Taking a clear stand on a polarizing issue isn't Obama's style
"Close observers" of Obama know he believes in being "president of all the people," says The Daily Beast's Sullivan, "including those who voted against him and those who conscientiously oppose marriage equality." I, for one, "do not despise his restraint in his office," and am happy with him acting as "Grand Marshall for our parade," not leading it. In other words, he's leading from behind again, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. That "isn't leadership — it's pandering." He should either come out for gay marriage or explain why he's opposed.
4. And he doesn't need to spell out his obvious support
"It's frustrating that Obama won't come out and say what he really believes," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. But come on, he has "basically revealed that he supports gay marriage, that it will ultimately carry the day, and that this is the outcome he wants." And it sure sounds like "Obama will endorse gay marriage someday," says The Atlantic's Good. But who knows if "that happens before or after November 2012."