The year 2011 marked the first time that a majority of Americans polled said they favored legalized same-sex marriage, but apparently no one told that to the people running for president.
This week in Iowa — where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2009 — the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group that opposes marriage equality, started running ads attacking Ron Paul for being the only GOP presidential candidate to support giving same-sex couples the right to marry. The ad notes that Paul said “sure” to same-sex marriage and calls this position “radical.”
Of course, Paul’s “sure” comment is not only radical when compared to the GOP field, but also to President Obama, whose views on the issue are apparently still “evolving.”
As support for gay rights has grown, Obama has attempted to perform an election year balancing act of appearing to be the equality candidate to supportive voters, without saying anything to alienate conservatives on a contentious cultural issue.
Obama successfully ended the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy this year, and he shifted positions in February when he opted not to defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — which gave the federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. But he has kept quiet lately and relied on other members of his Administration to take the oratorical lead — particularly Hillary Clinton, who gave a speech in Geneva this month committing foreign aid to promote equal rights for gay people, saying “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
So unless Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination or Obama suddenly decides it is safe to say out loud exactly how his views on same-sex marriage have evolved, there is unlikely to be a presidential candidate in 2012 who has caught up with public opinion on the issue.