The Brush-Up: A Same-Sex Marriage Special

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Busy week? If you didn’t have time to keep up with the news, our weekly current events cheat sheet will put you in the know so you’ll be a grade-A conversationalist at the bar/on a date/anywhere you might talk to other people.  

Breaking! Breaking! The President supports same-sex marriage! Wait, did you know he first supported it in 1996? WTF?

1. Biden shoves POTUS out of closet (that he walked out of 15 years ago?): I won’t waste your time recounting what you saw plastered all over the news earlier this week, so let’s get straight to the juicy bits. Biden went on Meet the Press on Sunday, professed his undying love for Will & Grace, and three days later, the heat from the Washington Press Corps was so high that the Pres had to call an impromptu interview with ABC to reveal that he’s been pro-the-gays-getting-hitched since early this year.

So yay! right? (Unless you’re anti-, in which case your marriage or future marriage is probably already suffering.) Well…it’s hard not to read this a little cynically. Here’s a questionnaire he filled out in 1996 when he was running for State Senate in Illinois, in which he unequivocally states, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages.”

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Date Night Talking Points: So did he change his mind in the late 90’s, or did he make a simple calculation that to climb to higher office, certain more radical (at the time) views would have to go? Is this just run-of-the-mill politics, or would you say it’s cowardly?

2.  Cynics point out difference between equality federalism and equality for all: One part of the interview that was overlooked at first, but starting to get some attention, is that Obama reiterated his belief that the issue should be decided on a state by state basis. This is the same view Dick Cheney took in 2004: I personally favor it, but let’s let the states decide for themselves.

This is, constitutionally, well, I guess not too consequential, because it really doesn’t matter how the President interprets a Constitutional right to marry – since he doesn’t sit on the Supreme Court. But symbolically, he’s essentially saying, “North Carolina should be able to do what they did on Tuesday.” (Which was constitutionally ban same sex marriages, all civil unions, and all domestic partnerships — even for heteros.) And it means he’s saying the other 30 states that have similar bans can keep theirs as well.

Date Night Talking Points: Should he have gone further, and supported marriage as a fundamental right for all? Do you think he did it this way to avoid taking any action? (Like introducing legislation into Congress.) Would you feel the same if the subject was interracial marriage, and states could do whatever they want?

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3. Mitt says “booooo,” Boehner says “Ummmm”: On the other side of the aisle, Gov Romney’s spokesman responded on behalf of the candidate, saying not only does Romney oppose SSM, but that he’s in favor of a Constitutional Amendment declaring marriage as between a man and a woman. He also seemed to suggest that the Governor will make this issue part of the campaign, which was a little surprising.

I imagine it was at least a little surprising to Speaker of the House John Boehner too, who said in his weekly press conference that he’d refuse to answer any questions on the subject. He said the American people only care about jobs and the economy, and that Obama and the Democrats are trying to change the subject with social issues.

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Date Night Talking Points: Is it good strategy for Romney to make this a campaign issue, or is he better off avoiding it? (Worth considering: roughly 51% of Americans favor SSM, but many of the toss-up states on the electoral map have lower percentages than that.)