The recent change in his public stance on gay marriage has earned the president the unwarranted praise of many in the gay community lately. After months of campaigning as a candidate who believed marriage was strictly reserved to one man and one woman, the newly elected president immediately began his peculiar "evolution" on the issue. No one believed he didn't support gay marriage. Everyone assumed, however, he would endorse the political hot potatoe after the November elections. That is, until Vice President Biden forced his hand.
In the wake of the president's (very odd) announcement, gay rights groups and gay marriage advocates rallied around the newly annointed leader of the movement. This included the HRC, who endorsed Mr. Obama's reelection one year ago while he was still an opponent of gay marriage and was vigorously defending DOMA and DADT in federal court. What virtually no one has bothered to mention is that Mr. Obama's political maneuvering on this issue has hurt the homosexual community's efforts for equal protection at least as much as and arguably more than any anti-gay campaign.
North Carolina offers good evidence of the damage done by Mr. Obama's opportunism. On May 8, 2012, North Carolinians voted to ban gay marriage in that state. The very next day President Obama announced his support. Since that announcement, opposition to gay marriage in the black community has seen a sharp decline. After months of supporting gay marriage at a rate of only about 41%, the black community now supports it by nearly 60%. And nationwide the trend has been the same since his announcement according to the Washington Post. Is the black community turning into an important ally of gay rights after years of voting in opposition? You tell me. But all signs point to yes as, like night turns into day, the NAACP endorsed gay marriage just ten days after Obama's policy shift, calling it a "civil right" issue.
Here's the million dollar question: Would 29 states have banned gay marriage by now if President Obama had had the courage to tell the American people the truth more than two weeks ago? Would states like California, North Carolina and Maryland have banned gay marriage if the president weren't a weak, opportunistic grand stander who preferred to use gay Americans as pawns instead of standing by them as fellow citizens and decent human beings?
The answer is increasingly apparent. No, they wouldn't have. President Obama does not deserve our praise. As in every other instance of his presidency, Barack Obama has failed to lead on an important and divisive issue. And, as usual, the cost was paid by those Americans who trusted him to bring about hope and change.