One of the frustrations of being a liberal in America is that you have to wait for millions of your neighbors to recognize obvious injustice. Women barred from the vote, racial segregation, anti-gay sodomy laws — they’d still be realities if progressives hadn’t worked very hard to change stubborn minds. And when those slow minds didn’t change fast enough, federal judges dutifully stepped in to rectify the situation through court rulings.
This week President Obama ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in courts. Many legal experts agree that this will have ramifications beyond gay marriage into areas like employment discrimination. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are trying – albeit gradually — to help gays earn clear-cut, well-duh rights through the court system. Waiting for a sluggish majority and the cowardly legislators they elect to decide that a minority deserves full citizenship often doesn’t work. People like their scapegoats too much to let go of them easily.
Meanwhile, Obama pretends that he is “evolving” on the issue of gay marriage. This is bullshit. When running for his Illinois state Senate seat in 1996, he told a newspaper: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Does anybody really believe he has gone from pro- to anti-gay marriage? That’s a very unusual trajectory. I understand why he would fabricate the “evolving” thing, weasely as it is — he’s presumably waiting for a bunch of people to play catch up. I just wish the slower citizens didn’t get to dictate the pace of national policy.