We can't peer into President Obama's soul, but his statement last week that he is "struggling" with whether to endorse same-sex marriage is open to an unedifying interpretation. Given the president's support of gay rights in other contexts, his opposition to marriage equality raises the question of whether the struggle Obama referred to is between politics and principle. If so, we hope principle will prevail.
At a news conference, Obama was asked if it is "intellectually consistent to say that gay and lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country but they should not be able to marry the people they love." Obama, rightly, took the question as a reference to his opposition to same-sex marriage. His answer was awkward and unsatisfying:
"As I've said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about. At this point my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have, [but] this is something that we're going to continue to debate and I personally am going to struggle with going forward."