Transcript from White House Press Office.
LM: On another topic, last week the President spoke about gay marriage when he was in New York and he said that -- talked about how this has been the province of the state and that’s the -- referring to what was happening in the debate in New York, he said that’s the power of democracy at work. Does that mean that he also respects the outcome of democracy at work in California where voters rejected the idea of gay marriage.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think as you saw in the decision we announced that we would no longer -- this administration would no longer be participants defending the Defense of Marriage Act because we do not believe it’s constitutional, that it’s precisely because of his belief that this was a matter that needs to be decided by the states. So without commenting on a particular other state, I think he was making that clear with regard to the action in New York.
Non-responsive to the question. She tries...
LM: Okay, but --
MR. CARNEY: But I’m not going to put words in his mouth applying to another state. I mean, you can analyze that, but -- because I haven’t heard him say that. But obviously the DOMA decision -- what he said in New York was about his belief, our belief, that this is a matter that states should decide.
LM: And the central argument in the challenge to Proposition 8 by supporters of same-sex marriage rights is that this isn’t something that should be decided state by states, in fact, that there are federal rights involved. So would he reject --
MR. CARNEY: Well, the President very strongly supports equal rights and he’s -- we’ve been -- he’s made that clear as well, and he said it again in New York at the event that you’re discussing. So I’m not going to --
LM: But I’m referring to the --
MR. CARNEY: I don’t really have a lot I can say about Proposition 8 with regards to what the President said last week. You know, I don’t -- I’m not willing to go to what the President didn’t discuss. I can talk about what he did discuss.
LM: So, but the proper reading of what he said -- it sounds like what you’re saying but I want to be clear -- is that, yes, this is up for the states and if New York decides that they want to allow same-sex marriage, great; if California decides that they don’t want to, then that’s their decision as well.
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I can’t improve upon the words that the President delivered publicly whatever night it was -- Thursday night. So I’m not disagreeing with that interpretation, but he has said quite clearly, as he did in the DOMA decision and as he did on Thursday night, that he believes that it’s for the states to decide.
Carney's dancing as fast as he can, and falling back repeatedly on the position that he, the President's Press Secretary, can't speak for President.
Meckler has zeroed in on the very troubling position that "states should decide." It is disheartening to see a Democratic President taking a "states rights" position on the topic of what is fast becoming the civil rights issue of our generation.
And as Meckler points out, there are Federal Rights involved. The President's current position of leaving it to the states to decide, essentially endorses the indefinite, likely lifelong, denial of Red State LGBTs rights as a just and acceptable outcome of "the process."
There is also a cognitive dissonance to Carney repeatedly reiterating that the administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This is a welcome view for them to be espousing, and it is a great favor to the LGBT community for them to have concluded that. But, if they believe laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman are unconstitutional, how does it follow that they can endorse individual states acting independently of the Federal Government to pass laws and amendments, like Prop 8, that limit LGBT Americans' Constitutional rights?
It is exactly this cognitive dissonance that piqued the curiosity of Bill Press, a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. [42:30 mark on the video.]
BP: My name is Bill. (Laughter.) Jay, I want to come back to the same-sex marriage issue, if I can. If the right to -- if the opportunity to enjoy the same rights, same-sex couples or straight couples or whatever, is a basic civil right, how can you square that with saying we leave it up to the states?
MR. CARNEY: Well, look, I’m not going to -- the President has made his position clear. It’s not very useful for us to have this debate. I think the President spoke about this on Thursday. He spoke about it -- sorry, he’s spoken about this a number of times in the past. So you could take it to other places but I think I’ll leave it to what he said.
BP: Let me ask this, then. But with New York being the largest state so far to recognize same-sex marriage, are you concerned that the President may have missed his opportunity to lead on this issue?
MR. CARNEY: Again, the President’s record on issues involving and of concern to the LGBT community is exemplary and we are very proud of it. He continues to fight on behalf of that community for the rights -- for equal rights. And his position on New York, he himself, rather than his press secretary, spoke at length about just a few nights ago. So I’ll leave it at that.
The eradication of DOMA would be an excellent step. DOJ's decision to step back likely hastened its fall by years. But the end of DOMA is likely to do nothing to deliver full equity to LGBT Americans living in states unwilling to actually pass marriage equality legislation.
Carney repeatedly says the President "very strongly supports equal rights" but I'm sorry to say, that isn't entirely true. He supports Equal Rights*.
Starting July 24, 2011, I will enjoy the right to walk down to my City Hall and request a state marriage license to marry any consenting adult foolish enough to join me. This is a right denied to nearly 80% of the country's LGBT population.
The data is in and civil unions just aren't cutting it. New Jersey's own state government has already declared the experiment with civil unions a failure. And Wednesday, Lamdba Legal will be filing a lawsuit in New Jersey's Superior Court arguing civil unions fail to meet the mandate of equal legal rights and financial benefits for same-sex couples set by the State Supreme Court in a 2006 ruling. Five years have been wasted on that failed experiment, while couples and their children suffered.
In Illinois, they have a brand-spanking-new civil unions law and already the state of Illinois is refusing to allow same-sex couples in civil unions to file joint state tax returns. But, it was supposed to be everything but "the word." Weeks old and the law is already demonstrating that separate is not equal. We thought we sorted that out in this country. As Winston Churchill said, "The Americans will always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives."
We all know what's really going on with President Obama. Somewhere between his trip to the Illinois state senate and the US Senate, candidate Obama staked out a comfortable carefully-triangulated position on the topic of LGBT relationship recognition. And he got himself some good mileage out of it. But the world has changed around him, much new legal ground has been broken with many Federal Court verdicts on DOMA, Prop 8, DADT. And again, the world changed on last Friday night. And, unfortunately, the candidate of Change™ still has not.
And as much as the White House very badly does not want this to be a topic of conversation in the next two years, the press smells a story here. They can recognize cognitive dissonance when they see it.
And it's really bigger than LGBT rights. One of the most dangerous things a politician can be, is to be inauthentic. Particularly when your brand was built on encouraging people to Believe™.
President Obama has unfortunately painted himself into this corner on this topic. And, there is really only one way out.
* Everything but the word.
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