OPINION: Why Obama Was Smart Not To Include The Gay Agenda In The State Of The Union

First off, let me say that I am not an Obama apologist.

Like most of us in the LGBT community, I don’t think the president has done enough for gay rights. The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a step in the right direction, but Obama could’ve gotten a lot more done for marriage equality and other issues in the first two years of his term, when he had the backing of a Democratic Congress.

So is it any surprise that he only said the word “gay” one time in his State of the Union address last night? No. We all expected Obama to play it safe in wooing moderate Republicans in a critical election year.

No rainbows quite yet.

Here’s the context:

Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

It’s almost the same exact way he mentioned it in last year’s SOTU: Gays, you deserve the right to serve in the army. Openly.

Yes, we know. We also want the right to marry our partners. Openly.

But I don’t begrudge him this: Look at the Republican candidates—even Mitt Romney said he’d try to outlaw gay marriage on a federal level. We need Obama back in office for four more years just to make we keep the marriage equality gains we have. We’ve got six states, and are on the verge of seven or more.

I believe Obama can make some progress on gay marriage on a federal level if we give him four more years. And the best way for him to get elected is to not make an issue of it right now. He’s got the gay vote. He doesn’t need to pander to us. What gay leaders need to do, in their behind-the-scenes conversations with the Administration, is make sure Obama knows we’re okay with his leaving us out of the campaign—but not out of the agenda.

Do you think an incremental approach is the best for marriage equality and other LGBT issues? Vote with your fingers in the comments.