I know that there were many political calculations leading up to all this, but what President Obama did today will stand as a significant moment in civil rights history. The fact that politics was involved hardly makes it cynical, and certainly doesn’t make it immoral. This seems like the kind of thing that politics is meant to do. After all, as Ta-Nehisi Coates notes today in his blog at the Atlantic, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a “political” act, but it also revealed Lincoln’s character, which by the way, had “evolved” (the word of the day, it seems) from that of a man willing to compromise on something as essential as human dignity, to that of a man who was willing to pay the ultimate price for justice.
Predictably, this is making Republicans froth at the mouth. What doesn’t? It seems to me that a party that was just recently headed by a gay man, Ken Mehlman, would recognize the need to get on the right side of history. Sadly, they will cynically claim that this is both a politically expedient move by the President and that same-sex marriage is opposed by most Americans. Contradictory? Since when has that been a problem? Shit, that might be a winning strategy!
Look. Obama has not codified anything here, and I am sure that in the short-term we will see a lot more fear-driven backwoods bullying like we saw in North Carolina. This is really scary to a lot of people. But nothing great has ever been accomplished without a fight, and it is nice to know that the president is willing to throw a punch every now and then. Now, if he would just drop the “leave it up to the states” bit….