A number of supporters and opponents of gay marriage on the right came together on Wednesday in a rare show of unity to slam President Obama’s announcement that he supports marriage rights for all. Here are a few of the most bitter emerging themes.
1) Did You See How Long He Took?
You’d think gay Republican groups would be thrilled with Obama’s announcement, given their vocal support for gay marriage. They weren’t.
“Obviously, it’s a good thing,” GOProud strategist Chris Barron told TPM. But that was where the credit stopped. “It’s unfortunate that the president waited until a day after the Amendment One vote in North Carolina,” he said. “Obviously, it would have made a difference if he would have come out before then and I’m confused as to why we had this entire dance with what the vice president said over the weekend. Why did that have to get walked back? I think the president has been overtly political about this from the very beginning. I’m glad he finally got to the right place on this, i just think it’s unfortunate that it had to happen the way it did.”
That was the generous take. The Log Cabin Republicans, which bills itself as “the nation’s only organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans” issued a statement excoriating Obama, calling his position “cold comfort” after North Carolina’s gay marriage ban passed by a huge margin. They even suggested he was following Republicans on the issue, since Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed same-sex marriage after leaving office. Mitt Romney, the current nominee, doesn’t even support civil unions.
“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, the group’s executive director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”
Richard Grennell, an openly gay Republican who left a job with the Romney campaign after being attacked by social conservatives, told the Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson that Obama is “more concerned with his own political calculations than with actual equal rights.”
2) Follow The Money
The cynical take on President Obama’s marriage is that it was a simple political ploy. Obama’s re-election team includes a number of gay fundraisers and one bundler did note after the announcement that it would make raising money on the president’s behalf much easier. The conservative Free Beacon spun the news this way: “GAY FOR PAY: Obama Reversal On Same Sex Marriage Comes Just Days After Donors Threatened To Withhold Funds.”
“God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement.
Ironically, one leading social conservative, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, instantly seized on the Obama news in order to ask for money.
“Now I know you support traditional marriage, but what I really need to know today, is will you fight for it this election? If so, please send a donation of $10 or more to Huck PAC immediately,” a message on his PAC’s website read. “We only support candidates who support traditional marriage and who are pro-life. We’ll make sure Congress and our state legislatures are stacked with conservatives who don’t want our President and the federal government defining marriage for us.”
For conservative pundits and anti-marriage groups, one major theme was that old 2004-era chestnut: The president is trying to destroy your godly heterosexual union.
As a blaring headline on FOX Nation declared: “OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE.”
The “war on marriage” portion was eventually edited out, but others were there to pick up the battle standard. “We’ve arrived at a point where the President of the United States is going to lead a war on traditional marriage,” Rush Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.