historical friction

Is Obama Two-Faced On Equality, Or Merely Following Lincoln’s Lead?


Taken out of context, Abraham Lincoln’s statements about slavery might have inclined some to see his position as hypocritical: He wanted to free slaves, sure, but what was this business about saving the Union at any cost (slavery or no slavery)? Fast-forward to the Obama administration, argues Adam Serwer, and you’ve got a similar scenario. This time, it’s with the gays. And while Barack Obama‘s statements about granting equality to queers is fervent, he’s also gone on record as saying he doesn’t believe in using the word “marriage” for same-sex couples. Is his private stance (for gay rights) at odds with his public position (for limited gay rights)? Or do these two things actually co-exist, happily, because they amount to the same thing?


That is, like Lincoln, Obama is not publicly a “radical,” and thus cannot profess his support for marriage equality, though he may feel this way privately.

Perhaps. But there’s also this argument: This is not the 1860s and a president needn’t be coy about his support for civil rights.

In fact, a president’s support for full equality should be emphatic, and anything less is inexcusable.

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