US President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the conclusion of the G8 Summit at Camp David in Maryland, May 19, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/JASON REED
Up to now, Obama has repeatedly said he believed "marriage" was between a man and woman, and not same sex (although he's always insisted that gays, lesbians, people in same-sex unions, should have the same rights as everyone else).
Most Americans (and Canadians) would agree with that, though most probably believe marriage should apply to opposite-sex couples. If so, the debate is over the word "marriage," not the fact of same-sex couples pledging their lives to each other. Obama doesn't acknowledge that he's flip-flopped on the "marriage" aspect; he says he's "evolved" to that belief, encouraged by his wife and daughters.
Speculation now is whether his conversion was politically motivated, and whether it will hurt or help him in the November election - which now consumes his every waking hour. Apparently, Obama is involved in more fundraisers than all the presidents combined since Richard Nixon.
A Fox News poll puts Obama seven points ahead of Romney, while political guru Dick Morris says Romney leads Obama by 10 points. By supporting gay marriage, Obama may have lost the evangelical vote - assuming he ever had it, which is doubtful. I suspect most people (like me) don't give a damn who marries whom.
On this issue, Romney remains constant and immovable: Marriage is between a man and woman. Period. And he doesn't like same-sex "unions" either.
So lines of distinction are clear and unblurred. That said, Romney also makes it clear the issue of sexual preference has nothing to do with being treated fairly, decently, equally. It's hard to argue against that, and perhaps puts the whole matter into perspective.
Those who suggest the die-hard, anti-gay-marriage faction won't like Obama's evolution to gay enlightenment miss a key point. They likely wouldn't vote for him anyway. On balance, he could lose more votes than he gains, since most probably disapprove of same-sex marriage.
The president's personal views on gay marriage may carry some influence, but have no legal clout. Seven states have legalized gay marriages, more than 30 have ruled "marriage" is an institution that applies only to the union of a man and a woman.
Doubtless, more states will start legalizing same-sex marriages. It's the future, just as homosexuals being welcomed - well, being accepted - in the military has become routine. The "don't ask, don't tell" dictum in the military, which seemed reasonable and sensible to some, has been ruled discriminatory, unjustified and unnecessary.
Right now there's a problem about how a legally married gay couple can get a divorce in a state that doesn't recognize gay marriages. One wonders if Obama's flip-flop was dictated at this precise moment by conviction, or politics. Clearly he sees it as a vote-getter, otherwise he'd have shut up and let the issue lie.
Same-sex marriages are more a case of national curiosity than national importance. Those who think the economy is moving, recovering even, might look at unemployment figures - which recently showed a slight drop. What this means is not more jobs, but more people giving up looking for work, who have surrendered to welfare and no longer figure on unemployment rolls. One-third of America isn't working.
That's not hopeful, but it's a reality that befuddles the Obama administration.