A challenge for Obama

He should show more courage and leadership on the issue of gay rights.

Daily Editorial Board

On Saturday, the University of Minnesota will welcome President Barack Obama. This is an honor for the University, but it is also an opportunity to let him hear our voices.
Obama has inadequately addressed gay rights. While he has had the right stance on the militaryâÄôs âÄúDonâÄôt Ask, DonâÄôt TellâÄù policy, criticizing it in a State of the Union speech and lobbying Congress to repeal it, he has failed to speak out on the larger issues of gay marriage and on gay equality.
ObamaâÄôs position on gay marriage is complex. In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate, he favored legalizing same-sex marriages. But over time, his position changed. He now supports equivalent civil unions, but not marriage for gays. He defines marriage as between a man and a woman while he opposes constitutional amendments that codify this belief, including CaliforniaâÄôs Proposition 8.
When Proposition 8 was overturned this year, a senior White House adviser, David Axelrod, said, âÄú[Obama] does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples.âÄù The statement reeks of trying to reap political benefits from both sides of the issue with none of the consequences. That is neither courage nor leadership, which is exactly whatâÄôs needed when Americans are, because of their sexuality, second-class citizens by law and by culture âÄî one bullying our gay youth to death.
Obama repeatedly says he wasnâÄôt elected to do what is popular or politically convenient, but to do what is right. Yet he has done exactly the opposite on gay rights. We urge the president to use the moral authority of his office to promote true equality for all Americans.