Maybe Equality California is just trying to shape coverage of Obama's words on same-sex marriage, since it's unlikely he'll come out with a brief for the Prop 8 trial this late in the game. But, if he did, something tells me we wouldn't like it. So I don't think getting him to submit something is the best idea:
Kors elaborated on that after the first day of testimony. "This is the civil rights trial of the decade," he said. "We're asking the Justice Department to weigh in on a basic principle. This doesn't only apply to the LGBT community, but all minorities. And to be silent is unacceptable."
Obviously, Obama's perceived reticence to speak out meaningfully on LGBT issues while President has caused strains with that constituency. Providing an amicus brief would help to soothe those tensions, and show LGBT Americans that he is willing to go beyond talk, and toward action. "If Obama would have the courage to lead on this issue, it would say a lot about him and of course change the sense many in the LGBT community have that he is not pushing for equality," said Rick Jacobs. "Think how you and so many others would feel if Obama spoke up."
Obama hasn't completely shied away from speaking on LGBT issues, including marriage. Here's what he had to say in August 2008 to Rick Warren:
Then asked to define marriage, he told Warren, "It's a union between a man and a woman."
"For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. God's in the mix," he said.
Obama added that he does support same-sex civil unions, saying, "I can afford those civil rights to others even if I don't have ... that view."
No, that's not quite the argument we want him making.
Candidate Obama later clarified his position with this:
Senators Obama and Biden have made clear their commitment to fighting for equal rights for all Americans whether it's by granting LGBT Americans all the civil rights and benefits available to heterosexual couples, or repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Senator Obama has already announced that the Obama-Biden ticket opposes Proposition 8 and similar discriminatory constitutional amendments that could roll back the civil rights he and Senator Biden strongly believe should be afforded to all Americans.
Pro civil unions but against the word marriage. That's pretty much what Prop 8 did in California - they already had "everything but the word" civil unions for same-sex couples, and, if the judge rules that Prop 8 stands, that's what the right will win.
He opposed Prop 8, sure, but now that it's passed? California's laws on same-sex partnerships is exactly Obama's campaign promise to America.
The article continues:
Obama's name actually came up in court several times on the first day - from the pro-Prop 8 side. They quoted Obama as supporting the concept of marriage as between a man and a woman. Pro-equality lawyer David Boies countered that Obama's parents wouldn't have been allowed to marry in most states before Loving v. Virginia allowed inter-racial marriage. But clearly, Obama's words are being used as talking points in this trial. "The fact that right-wing groups oppose everything by the Obama Administration, and then use his position to support their claims on Prop 8, makes it more important that he make himself known," said Geoff Kors.
I'm sure the right is bringing up Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage. It makes it harder to say that their side is motivated by nothing but out-of-fashion bigotry when the country just voted in a guy with the same beliefs as they have.
And just bringing up Obama's parents isn't really a response. Here's what candidate Obama thought about being the product of an interracial marriage and how that relates to same-sex marriage nowadays:
Well, look, you know, when my parents got married in 1960, '61, you know, it would have been illegal for them to be married in a number of states in the South. So obviously, this is something that I understand intimately, it's something that I care about.
But I would also say this, that if I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said it's less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state.
Now, it's not for me to suggest that you shouldn't be troubled by these issues. I understand that and I'm sympathetic to it. But my job as president is going to be to make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day to day basis for loving same sex couples all across the country, that those rights are recognized and enforced by my White House and by my Justice Department.
Hmmmm... not exactly a ringing endorsement of the "The blacks got the right to marry, so we can draw a straight line from racists of yesteryear to homophobes of today to show that the opponents of same-sex marriage don't have an argument decent people would support!" argument. It sounds more like: "Yeah, my parents wouldn't have been able to marry in a lot of states, but that's not really all that big of a deal to me. More important are other issues of the Civil Rights Movement, and, even still, if they had some sort of 'civil unions for interracial couples,' I probably would have been in support of that."
Then there was Obama saying he thinks marriage is between a man and a woman on the Senate floor in 2006:
Now, I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue. And I should say that personally, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But let's be honest. That's not what this debate is about. Not at this time.[...]
I agree with most Americans, with Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Cheney, with over 2,000 religious leaders of all different beliefs, that decisions about marriage, as they always have, should be left to the states.
Today, we should take this amendment only for what it is - a political ploy designed to rally a few supporters and draw the country's attention away from this leadership's past failures and America's future challenges.
"Should be left to the states"? Then maybe he'd be against a federal court telling California that it can't ban same-sex marriage.
Obama also, while he was president, completely ignored the fight for marriage in Maine. Perhaps for the better.
I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade. It would be nice if Obama or someone who works for him filed a brief talking about how the gays deserve marriage and Prop 8 should be overturned. It'd also be nice if all Republicans came out in favor of single-payer health care, because it'd be a lot easier to pass if they did.
But it's not going to happen, and Obama's carved himself out a little "I'm OK with civil unions and almost everything related to marriage except for same-sex marriage" space that he hasn't shown any sign of budging from, and it's unlikely he'll go so far as to agree with the plaintiffs that there is a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
In other words, it'll probably serve our side better if he just stayed out of this one. If he or someone who works for him filed a brief that started with, "I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, but..." that wouldn't be helping.