Does anyone really believe that Barack Obama hasn't supported gay marriage because of his "understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage"? Still, he told liberal bloggers yesterday that he might stake out a less safe position on the topic.
Obama supported gay marriage "unequivocally" back in 1996, but that was during a race for State Senator, before he had to deal with national politics.
Yesterday, he told Joe Sudbay of AmericaBlog that "attitudes evolve, including mine." He also said,
"I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply. And so while I'm not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it's fair to say that it's something that I think a lot about. That's probably the best you'll do out of me today."
Given that he also referred to the momentum (in the courts and in some states) towards gay marriage, his remarks have been seen as a signal that he could change his position on gay marriage in time for the 2012 election. Not that it would be a magic bullet — after all, he formally opposes Don't Ask Don't Tell too — but it would certainly be a step, one that would cease ceding ground to conservatives who say their opposition to gay marriage is no less tolerant than the president's.
The president has clearly been trying to make targeted inroads to that disaffected liberal base: On Tuesday, he had an off-the-record meeting with opponents of Don't Ask Don't Tell; on Wednesday, he met with liberal bloggers who were critical of him, and then taped an appearance on The Daily Show.
Also, the ladies! He gave a speech about domestic violence yesterday. This Friday, Michelle Obama is having a "women leaders" conference call, "discussing some of the important changes that this administration has helped enact that benefit women — including historic health insurance reform, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and new education policies that mean all of our children have a chance to learn the skills they need for today's economy."