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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  • bobito

    Interesting that they bring up Lincoln now – the abolitionists hated the way he didn’t do a thing about slavery after he got elected. Then when he finally did something, the Emancipation Proclamation only abolished slavery in the states of the confederacy. There were 2 slave-holding states that did not secede from the Union, and slavery wasn’t abolished in those 2 states. Years later, the Emancipation Proclamation turned out to be a very important, ground-breaking legal document, but at the time it was penned, it didn’t change much for those who were living in slavery (except the ones in confederate states who risked their lives to escape and/or rebel, now that they were technically ‘free’)

    The real heroes were the progressives (in this case, abolitionists) who never ceased to agitate for what they knew was right and who established underground railroads to help slaves escape into free territories. After the Emancipation Proclamation, they were justifiably outraged and they let the President know it.

    Keep holding Obama’s feet to the fire, guys – the only way he’ll become this generation’s Abraham Lincoln is if we leave him no other option.

  • Timmeeeyyy

    What indication do you have that Obama’s private views differ from his public stance?

  • Qjersey


    If Obama flat out support gay marriage during the election, he may well have lost… it’s all political semantics

    Why can’t Obama simply support Civil Unions for everyone and leave marriage to religious institutions.

    “the phrase marriage is hearby replaced with the term Civil Union in all federal laws, statutes and regulations and any two non blood related persons over the age of 18 may enter into a civil union regardless of gender, sex, or identity”

  • M Shane

    His positions are not inconsistent. He takes the more Radical view of connubial arrangements, not the right wing assimilationist view.
    I hate to keep repeating this but again: In this case , as Obama says , he does not support a definition of marriage which includes same sex groupings. That does not run counter to the belief
    that same sexcouples should have equal rights. In fact, as it is, given the definition accepted of marriage-it includes only breeding couples. Any gay man can legally marry the woman of his choice.
    Traditionally, if you do any reading, you will pick up right away on the fact that marriage was a way for the state to regulate population. To include non-productive couples would be contrary to this basic principle (read ,e.g. Foucaults “History of Sexuality”). The issue here would be”why reward non-breeders” with a breeder reward.

    I think that the appraoach to the issue that if two people have significant emotional connectedness, they deserve special consideration to account for that is the most radical position; Civil Unions. I t’s really bizarre that people want to be brides like their mothers when they can’t have babies.
    I t seems reasonable that society was going to an extreme
    by granting Civil Unions.

    They can vary in what they grant in all sorts of ways. In France straight people have started wanting Civil Unions instead of Marriages, and I believe have been granted them.
    People get into such a rigid mindset that they just don’t think
    about the issues. and the context.

    CBesides Obama or any congress is not going to enrage the Religious fabnatics and irritate people who really understand the matter , amnd grant Marriage. I don’t know why some people keep hacking at that old fantasy.

    You’re not likely to be a happy housewife-you’re a gay man.

  • Dennis

    Thank you for the history lesson. Yes…and it is ours to continue agitating and demanding our rights from ALL OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS and stop singling out Obama as the only person who is responsible for making a change, though his role is obviously important.

    And what deluded gay thinks that ANY CANDIDATE could have said they support full-on gay marriage and still have won the election last November? Wake the fuck up, honey…our rights in that area still piss many in this country off, and we’d be having the pleasure of President McCain and Vice President Moose-hunting Mom. Beyond fucking scary. If you think that would advance our rights in any way, you’re insane.

    Keep the pressure on, and be tactical, and pragmatic.

  • badlydrawnbear

    I point you to this Towleroad post today

    President Obama summed up his views on gay rights and his faith:
    “For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it’s clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they’re often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I’m constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians.”

    Obama is NOT our ally.

    We are gonna have to do this old school style and write letters, lobby, march, withhold campaign contributions and bring enormous public pressure to bear on the Obama administration to achieve anything. to quote Spike Lee “WAKE UP!”

  • wondermann

    @badlydrawnbear: That’s silly. He struggles with his faith does not mean he is not an ally. He is looking in himself and dealing with what he’s believed all of his life. Mostly everyone goes through this

  • Fitz

    I don’t have a problem with people who struggle with their faith, or their beliefs. The know-it-all people seem to be the most dangerous.

  • Jaroslaw

    Struggling with faith is one thing, point taken about the know-it-alls are the most troubling but….. faith is not public policy. Separation of Church & State anyone?

  • strumpetwindsock


    It’s unfortunate that Obama framed the dilemma that way.

    I certainly respect the struggle between his faith and concern for his citizens.

    I just hope he realizes that his personal faith has no bearing on the job he is supposed to do. Your country is not run by Canon Law, but by the constitution .

    Politicians have a responsibility to govern not according to their own beliefs, but for the good of everyone. TO think otherwise is to believe the same lie that the Moral Majority would like to pass off on you.

    Our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin said plainly that regardless of the fact he is a devout Roman Catholic, his duty as prime minister is to protect the rights of minorities.

    “We will be influenced by our faith but we also have an obligation to take the widest perspective — to recognize that one of the great strengths of Canada is its respect for the rights of each and every individual, to understand that we must not shrink from the need to reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of Canadians in an evolving society”


    The Catholic Church actually threatened to withold communion from politicians who voted for gay rights and abortion rights in several votes. Fortunately our government saw where their responsibilities lay and were nwo swayed by the threat.

    Barack Obama is not a stupid man; surely he must be aware of the distinction. Let’s hope that he winds up doing the right thing.

  • Cam

    Obama campaigned on Gay rights, Lincoln didn’t campaign on Slave rigths, origionally Abraham Lincoln did not campaign on a promise to emancipate all slaves in the U.S.A. He promised to leave slavery alone in the states where it existed, but forbid introducing slavery into new territory.

    So again, there is a huge difference, Lincoln ended up doing more than he promised. Obama as of now is backtracking from his campaign promises.

  • Jaroslaw

    Great observation CAM, and Strump, that is what I was trying to say. You stole my words. :)

  • strumpetwindsock


    Plus, the issue of slavery was not simple, but mixed in with other issues in the larger north-south industrial-agrarian struggle.

    Lincoln was right to put the preservation of the union first, and hold his cards on slavery.
    But in the end emancipation was not just a philanthropic act, but punitive as well. Southerners who actively supported the secessionist war effort saw their slaves freed as punishment.

    And full emancipation at the end of the war, even though it was the right thing to do, effectively brought the south to its knees, economically and morally.

  • schulteraffe

    I don’t believe for a New York minute that Obama is struggling with his beliefs. The only thing he is struggling with is losing votes in 2012. When it was convenient and politically advisable to do so, he supported same-sex marriages. Where were his conflicted, faithful views then? Obama’s entire political career has been one of careful pseudo-progressivism tempered by calculated capitulation to conservative interests. I don’t quite know how he came to have a reputation for being a unique, political outsider. His entire catalog of accomplishments before being elected President were all examples of mere political posturing. He has proven himself to be nothing more than electable. Only time will show how he acquits himself when there is no ever more important election to look forward to. I think we will have to wait four more years before he finally starts thinking about what he should do, as opposed to how what he does makes him look. Obama is an ally to the gay community only to the extent that we make him look good. This should not surprise people, you can’t blame a leopard for his spots.

  • Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace

    You got it, it’s not the 1860’s.

    Joe Mustich, JP, Washington, Connecticut

    And we have freedom of and from religion in America, don’t we?

    So kudos to New England and Iowa for supporting (civil) marriage.

    It’s time Obama.

  • Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace

    But from DOMA to DADT, to “war” funding, national health/single payer, bail-outs for banksters, Israel-Palestine, etc, etc

    It looks like alot of folks voted for a Bush in black face, doesn’t it?

    Joe Mustich, JP, Washington, Connecticut

    However, I not surprised in the least….

  • InExile

    Hate to go back to the primary but, he used to use NAFTA against Hillary, have you heard the word since he was elected? He promised to start working on DADT on his first day, did it happen? He promised to use the “bully pulpit” of the oval office to push through ENDA and Mathew Sheppard Act, did it happen? He promised Civil Unions with full Federal benefits, has he even mentioned that? There is a pattern here, a pattern of outright deception!

    This man has no intention of doing ANYTHING period.

    Catering to the religious right with faith this and faith that should spell it out to most people.

    Our only hope is writing forceful letters stating NO MONEY, NO VOTES, NO CAMPAIGNING, AND NO SUPPORT ON OTHER ISSUES FOR ANY DEMOCRATS, combined with demonstrations, telephone calls, and calling him on his BS on all Blogs possible.

    The democrats need to understand, we have had enough. NO ISSUE is more important than our civil rights.

  • InExile

    @Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace: Funny you make that comparison. During the primary I said, this guy is a democrat version of Bush. The party is different but not much else.

  • SM


    People like you prove that no one actually listens to what Obama says. You all listen to what you want to hear or the news spin.

    Obama has said over and over that the politics in Washington will change when WE the people want it to.

    You all have put all your issues in the hands of one man and then expect him to be perfect, fast in the way he changes things while we do nothing to help.

    People want all this hope and change without working for it.

  • InExile

    @SM: Hope and Change are buzz words used by a salesman. Sorry, I do not buy it! Words are just words, it is that simple. If you believe it, that is your problem.

    He is good at sales, I’ll give you that. We bought a lemon.

  • Cam


    We can always depend on you to come in and use platitudes to defend Obama….gee, he said that we the people need to do this. Well you know what? I’m fine with calling my congressmen etc.. but I didn’t vote for Obama so that I could go to the White House and do his job for him. He isn’t coming to my office to do my work is he?

    If he won’t do the job then he shouldn’t have campaigned on it. You are great at using his quotes to back up your point but you always seem to leave out the quotes where he was promising us he would do something about Gay issues.

  • Bob R

    I don’t want Obama to be like Lincoln. We don’t need another Lincoln in the White House right now. We need an FDR. A President who has courage and isn’t afraid to do what is needed to fix this economy and get the nation back on track, despite Republican opposition. It would also be a BIG plus if Michelle was more like Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor pushed for integration of the armed forces and equal rights for African-Americans. She was a vocal and active progressive force. Black troops and fliers, like the Tuskegee airmen were commonly referred to as “Roosevelt’s niggers” because Eleanor pushed FDR to fight racism in the military. Don’t get me wrong, Lincoln was a great President. Probably the only Republican President that was worth a damn. Look at what the GOP has produced since. But what America and gay America needs right now is someone with the courage and tenacity of FDR, not the appeaser we have in Obama. Obama makes Neville Chamberlain look courageous.

  • schlukitz


    People want all this hope and change without working for it.

    And you of course to hear you speak, you have single-handedly taken this enormous burden onto you back and carried it for us while we sit around drinking Budweiser in front of the TV set.

    Christ, you come off sounding like a fucking nagging housewife who greets her husband when he comes home each evening from work and simply asks what’s for dinner.

    “I scrub my fingers to the bone, I clean the house. I do the shopping. Take the kids to school every morning and pick them up every night and slave over a hot stove at the end of the day and all you can ask, is what’s for supper?”

    One very simple question for a simple mind like yours.

    Who contributed their time and effort for free for theDNC and worked for the $$$ we sent in to get Mr. Obama elected?

    Every word out of your fucking big mouth is designed to tear into the LGBT community and rank them out for what YOU believe is not enough to earn us our rights. And if you think so little of the gay community, then why do you even bother with it.

    You obviously have a martyr complex.

    How do you get like that anyway?

  • schlukitz

    @Bob R:

    Christ. Isn’t that the fucking truth!

    At least Chamberlain had enough intelligence to appease Herr Hitler by giving him foreign nations as a peace offering.

    Obama is giving away his own country in an effort to appease the Religious Right.

    That’s downright stupid!

  • InExile

    Obama appears to be the single biggest setback for LGBT equality since W, H.W. Bush and Reagan! We did not vote for someone to appease the religious right or the republican party. We voted for a man we thought would do what is right. This man ran on a platform of “CHANGE”, where is it?

  • InExile

    Funny how no one tries to defend him anymore.

  • DelphKC

    LoL, if I were him I’d do the same thing… If you want to stay in office to do all things you want to do, you have to play a really complicated game… You have to please a whole bunch of people with sometimes polar opposite views…

    In order to win a second bid at the white house, and get any of his big plans accomplished, he’s going to have win the favor of far more people than just us… He barely made it into the white house the first time…

    So, I say do what you must… I have faith in the man… :) :) :)

  • DelphKC

    Also, it’s ridiculous to say “it’s not the 1860’s” when people are still being shot and killed for being gay…

    We aren’t very far away from those times at all.. My God, African-Americans just got their civil rights 50 years ago… that was practically yesterday!

  • strumpetwindsock


    Yeah, but don’t forget the numbers game. Do you think the democratic majorities in the house and senate are going to anywhere but down?

    Every president starts getting fitted for a bill, wings and webbed feet the first day of his second term – IF he even gets that second term.

    So staying in office is not the only issue, especially when one is playing with the interests of many constituencies.

  • DelphKC

    @strumpetwindsock: I see your point, it’s a nailbiter! I’m just praying this plays out well, for everybody… :^)

  • SM


    One of Obama’s FIRST moves was putting the weight of his administration behind the Matthew Shepard Act. FACT

    Obamas campaign did not know the economy would go into free fall either. You know how EASY it would be to pass strong health care legislation if the economy was good now? Its MANY FACTORS.

    Stay “inexile” it suits you….kind of reminds me of Palin the quitter

  • InExile

    @SM: That’s right, he was so busy he only gave Judy Sheppard 3 minutes of his time. Oh, and no movement in the Senate, that’s progress!

    HE WILL NOT GET A FREE PASS FOR HIS LACK OF ACTION. Some have faith, most do not.

  • Steve

    @Qjersey: The word “marriage” is not just a USA domestic thing. When married couples travel to other countries, they are still married, and their marriages are recognized by those countries. We have documents called “treaties” by which provide for mutual recognition of marriages, in almost all cases. If you change the word, you lose that universal recognition.

  • ousslander

    If he’s like lincoln, will he give us our own country somewhere?

  • Bill Perdue

    From 1860 to 1865 the US was still a floundering democracy. In response to the secession crisis Lincoln became more, not less, radical, moving to the left, refusing to consider the slavocracys demand for a nation of their own and mobilizing the US for all out, total war on the secessionists.

    Lincoln was against slavery but not an abolitionist, as Bobito pointed out, although that began to change as his government understood the impact emancipation had on the slavocracys war effort.

    The gist of what I’m saying is that Lincoln moved to the left in his crisis. Obama and the Democrats as a whole are moving to the right. The Republicans are transitioning from a right centrist to a far right party and the Democrats have claimed the right center for themselves.

    It’s an insult to US history to compare Obama to Lincoln. The people we ought to be comparing Obama too are Clinton and Bush. Clinton and Bush are virtually indistinguishable in their homohating bigotry. Clinton gave us DADT and DOMA and Bush a bevy of state DOMAs. And in their reactionary stance on the economy; Clinton gave us NAFTA and deregulation and paved the way for the current crisis which emerged when Bush turned a blind eye to looting by the rich. And both Clinton and Bush engaged in genocide in Iraq. Obama is following the same path of pandering to bigots, waging war and being a lap dog of the looter class.

    The problem with Obama is that he’s a Clinton clone.

  • Tony

    “Obama campaigned on Gay rights, Lincoln didn’t campaign on Slave rigths, origionally Abraham Lincoln did not campaign on a promise to emancipate all slaves in the U.S.A. He promised to leave slavery alone in the states where it existed, but forbid introducing slavery into new territory.

    So again, there is a huge difference, Lincoln ended up doing more than he promised. Obama as of now is backtracking from his campaign promises.

    Ditto. And to add, Lincoln did not receive millions of dollars from slaves based on promises (lies) to them, while Obama lied to the LGBT Community and sucked up our dollars as we sucked up to him.

  • Miss Malevolent

    I think it’s hilarious that the LGBT community is wondering if they were played.

    Well dears, you obviously weren’t paying attention.

    Did you even bother to listen to any of his rhetoric outside of the word, “change”?

    No you were too busy bashing the Clintons for being racist (LIE) when it is obvious as hell that Hillary Clinton would’ve done more for gay right (as she’s done in the State department) than anything you guys fantasized about Obama doing.

    I can’t believe the American populace is so gullible and insipid.

    All you did was vote for four more years. Live with that and deal with it. And don’t do like the morons of 2004 and say, “Let him (Bush) finish the job he started!” Get rid of the lying moron in 2012.

  • Attmay

    I’m already working to kick out Buttcrack Obigot in 2012. Sooner, if he has committed some impeachable offense.

  • Bertie

    Obama could not be a PIMPLE on Abe Lincoln’s ass.

    He is simply an inferior man – a FAITH-obsessed smug bigoted career politician and lip service pro.

  • Monstro The Whale

    Obama will never be anything like Abe Lincoln – end story.

    But if Michelle Obama starts having seances in the White House, call me !!

  • Mark

    President Obama has recently back-tracked on the needle exchange program that Bush dismantled while ignoring all the science that guaranteed more HIV transmission! Again, with the same irresponsible excuses, he’s waiting to move slowly and build support. What? I thought the Dems and the American public had a majority. Obama has a long history of flipping; FISA, off shore drilling, Gay marriage, DC gun control, capitol punishment, funding the wars, DOMA etc… What a monumental disappointment. A typical politician who said anything to get elected in Illinois and now the Presidency. It’s sad that so many believed him. What a lack of courage and leadership to not stand up for doing the right thing now. Lives are at stake and millions suffer under the oppression and discrimination brought about by these asinine faith based policies and unconstitutional laws. He wants us to wait for SOME of our civil rights, until those who deny us feel more comfortable? Give me a break! How many more years must pass and how many more bigots must pass until President Obama feels it’s the right time for him to do something?

  • Felicia

    @Dennis: I totally agree. Why are we singling out Obama? Where was this vitriol on Queerty during the Bush admin? It seems to me that some have transitioned from blaming all blacks for Prop 8, because that’s too overtly racist, to picking one black in particular to scapegoat. I will refrain from calling the President two-faced until 2012. If he hasn’t signed legislation to repeal DADT and DOMA by then, then I will lead the charge to throw him out of office.

  • Felicia

    @Miss Malevolent: “you were too busy bashing the Clintons for being racist…when it is obvious as hell that Hillary Clinton would’ve done more for gay right [sic]…than anything you guys fantasized about Obama doing.”


  • No Homophobama

    Obama in private hates the gays. I know an attorney who worked with him in Chicago. Barry (Obama) called referred to a gay paralegal as “that faggot” more than once. The HR department and the firm was involved and “Barry” was told to keep his gay hatred outside the office.

    Obama. Gay-hating self-serving politician.

  • No Homophobama

    Barry (Obama) referred to a gay paralegal as “that faggot” more than once. The HR department in the firm was involved and “Barry” was told to keep his gay hared outside the office.

    Typo alert:

    I meant to say:

    Barry (Obama) referred to a gay paralegal as “that faggot” more than once. The HR department in the firm was involved and “Barry” was told to keep his gay hared outside the office.

  • MuBear

    @M Shane “In fact, as it is, given the definition accepted of marriage-it includes only breeding couples”

    Not entirely. Non-breeding (whether by infertility or by choice) heterosexual couples & mature heterosexuals beyond fertile age are given full marriage rights.

  • MuBear

    @DelphKC: “it’s ridiculous to say “it’s not the 1860’s” when people are still being shot and killed for being gay… ”

    Umm…perhaps beaten for a night out of cocktails in Ft Worth…?

  • Morgan

    Poor Queerty still struggling with the illusion.

    Aren’t there any trial lawyers here? What part of wordsmithing don’t you understand? The man is a master of that. Again with the claim that he’s secretly in favor of gay marriage?

    HE’S NOT. The smartest subset of Americans,(gays) were duped.

    I don’t find him a particularly smart or interesting debater but he’s got the talking points refined. His handlers have crafted the best lawyerly ambiguous, non commital and misleading statements possible.


    He’s for “decreasing the need for abortions”. WTF. So who’s not?

    Here’s what he really believes and per Politico wrote at Harvard and stipulates as such:

    “government has more important business than “ensuring that any particular fetus is born.”

    “He also decried any limits on abortion, saying the government has an interest in “preventing increasing numbers of children from being born in to lives of pain and despair.”

    See, it’s that pesky “born into lives of pain and despair” thing that’s troublesome to me. Barry knows what’s best for you all. He doesn’t want anybody being born in the first place that might be a somewhat compromised individual. Whatever the f*ck that means, he’s most likely referring to his own childhood.

    Meanwhile he has ONE agenda. BIG Government. OPM. Yours. The money he feels was gained un”fairly”.

    And while he’s busy honoring his WORD that there will be no gay marriage, he’s going to tax your wealthy azzes so that you enjoy a dramatic decrease in wealth, then control your healthcare so those HIV cocktails that are keeping so many men going might be up for debate/waitlisted next. Just sayin….like where’s the freaking swine flu shots big government??

    Y’all better get it together and cross over to WHATEVER SIDE is likely to get this guy OUT OF OFFICE ASAP. Play the game. Pound on the Dems. Pound on the Republs on ALL ISSUES. Act up so to speak.

    Even if you aren’t in agreement with conservatives pretend you are, seriously and show up with the protest signs and answer the pollsters in the most negative ways you can. The sooner he plummets in polls, the sooner you can address your real agendas from a more powerful position.

    And I’m not kidding one bit. Not a Repub, i am a populist.

    And while we’re on the subject why aren’t ya’ll FURIOUS to see Pelosi in a closed room meeting telling illegals “You are the real patriots”. Uh…you don’t get it? She has YOUR vote already.

    Jeeze. Naive much? no offense…

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