Gays to Obama: Pick one of us for Supreme Court
With more states enacting same-sex marriage laws, pressure is growing on President Obama to moderate his stance against gay marriage.
Advocates are urging him to appoint a gay man or woman to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. Even if Obama does not name a gay justice, senators will likely question the nominee about the hot-button issue during confirmation hearings, propelling it to the top of the political agenda this summer.
Already Christian groups are lobbying against such a selection by organizing protests in Washington, where the City Council recently voted to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
“That would be tantamount to opening the gate for the other side,” said Bishop Harry J. Jackson Jr. of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. “If he [Obama] meant what he said about marriage then I think he has got to stand up and be a president who acts on his beliefs.”
Gay advocates are also working to persuade the Pentagon to repeal its Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Over the weekend, national security advisor James L. Jones Jr., a retired four-star Marine general, said changing Pentagon policy on gays in the military will require not the flick of a light switch but "more of a rheostat." And he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that this "complicated issue" needs to be "teed up appropriately and it will be discussed in the way the president does things, which is be very deliberative, very thoughtful, seeking out all sides on the issue."
The New York Times' Sheryl Stolberg wrote last week that Obama has tread cautiously on these issues for fear of alienating some moderate and religious voters he courted during the campaign, including black preachers who form a core constituency.
But as writer David Mixner put it, gay activists are beginning to wonder, “How much longer do we give him the benefit of the doubt?”
Our guess is that Obama, a pragmatist, is waiting for consensus to build on the issue. After a meeting with gay rights organizations at the White House last week, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “They have a vision. They have a plan.”
-- Johanna Neuman
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Photo: Supporters and opponents of California's Proposition 8. Credit: Getty Images