Missed Opportunity

Obama Loses His Chance To Confront Putin On Russian Homophobia

President Obama will have to wait for another time to tell Vladimir Putin that the U.S. abhors the rabid homophobia that’s been unleashed in Russia. While the president will be attending an economic summit in St. Petersburg next month, the White House has announced that it is cancelling a summit with Putin, so the face-to-face meeting is off.

According to a statement from the House, “given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda.” The human rights reference presumably covers the antigay violence that has become a defining characteristic of Russian society, although it would have been nice if the reference was explicit.

Obama sent a strong signal about what his message to Putin would have been during his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, saying he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays of lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

While the chance to tell Putin directly what he thinks won’t be happening, Obama still has a number of steps he can take to signal the U.S.’s disapproval of Russian homophobia. The questions is, will he take them?