Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lincoln Mitchell on Obama's Marriage Equality Miscalculation: Leadership Failure

And talking further about being stuck in 1967 while people with good sense and sound consciences want to move towards 2011: here's Lincoln Mitchell at Huffington Post today on the colossal political miscalculation Mr. Obama is making with his retrogressive, principles-lite stand on marriage equality:

The President's failure to support marriage equality is, at best, a political miscalculation, but it is also more than that. It is a failure to take a leadership role on one of the defining civil rights issues of the day. Even if Obama were to change his mind tomorrow he would not be viewed as a leader on this issue as that space is now occupied by other politicians, most recently and notably New York's Andrew Cuomo. Leading on marriage equality will also quickly prove to be a political win for Governor Cuomo, not only in his own state, but nationally. Cuomo now has a major accomplishment to point to which satisfies much of the liberal base of the Democratic Party, and also has helped his national profile as a leader and national figure in the Democratic Party.

Equally damagingly, Obama has almost certainly placed himself on the reactionary side of history with regards to this battle for equality. New York is, Republican controlled state senate notwithstanding, a somewhat liberal state, but it is also a big and important state. Accordingly, the passage of marriage equality in New York sends a much bigger and more important national message, than similar legislation in smaller states. There will still be setbacks, but the legislative arc on the issue of marriage is now curving towards equality rather than bigotry. It is likely that within a decade or two most states will recognize marriage equality with only the most right-wing states still holding out against it. 

Mitchell's right.  Embarrassingly, Mr. Obama is now not only to the right of Gov. Cuomo, of Republican Catholic New York legislators Joseph Alesi and Mark Grisanti.  He's now to the right of Dick Cheney.  And Laura Bush.  

He has made a sorry miscalculation by his persistent (and adamant) refusal to move from 1967 to 2011 on this human rights issue.  And the miscalculation is going to cost him in 2012.

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