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Marriage Equality and Presidential Character

Thomas Whitley

As you've probably heard by now, yesterday President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. There has been a lot of reaction to this in less than 24 hours. This was to be expected. Most of the reaction I have seen has been positive. Many have congratulated the President for his courageous step, as it represents a political risk. Others have cautiously applauded the President, upset that it took him this long and prodding by VP Biden's comments on Meet the Press on Sunday. I, for one, am glad that the President has finally come out in favor of equality, though I was disappointed by his admission that it took him so long because he thought civil unions would be enough. Come on, Mr. President, we all know that "separate but equal," even by any other name, never works.

There has also been, as was expected, a lot of negative reaction from conservatives, mostly conservative Christians. But conservative Christians bashing the President's faith is nothing new. One criticism did strike me as rather amusing, though. Al Mohler wrote:

Honesty is the best policy, and the President has now made his position clear. He is again for what he was until today against, but that was only after he was for it before. The American people will have to unravel that as an issue of character.

This is amusing to me because while on the one hand, Obama is guilty of the political flip-flop on this issue with his stance changing when he ran for Senate most likely for political reasons. One the other hand, does Mohler think that his candidate, Mitt Romney, has any character at all? Certainly, the American people will have to "unravel" Obama's flip-flop as an issue of character. That will take about 2.5 seconds for most Americans and I believe that not many votes will be changed by this announcement. But when it comes to Mitt Romney, I'm not sure there is enough time between now and November for the American people to "unravel" all of his flip-flops and abhorrent lack of character. He too, by the way, professed support for marriage equality in 1994 when running for Senate and when asked about it recently he said that his views had not changed since he began running for office. That's pretty telling. Moreover, Romney has now said that he'll "take credit for" the auto bailout that saved the American auto industry when he famously wrote an NYT OpEd titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

So, excuse me as I try to contain my laughter that Al Mohler thinks this is a legitimate chink in Obama's character when his candidate's own campaign admitted that his campaign was run like an Etch a Sketch, being able to reset and change at any point. Republicans rightly blasted Romney during the primaries because there seems to be not one single issue that Romney has not flip-flopped on at some point in his political career. Try as Mohler may, "character" is certainly not what the 2012 presidential race will come down to and the GOP won't let it, because they know Romney has no chance in hell of winning on that front.