Just in case you’ve been completely unplugged and shut in today, President Obama finally came in support of gay marriage. Some cited the convenient timing with last night’s referendum in North Carolina, but to that I can only say that it’s logical for his feet to be put to the fire on this issue in light of the national reaction and his previous cowardice (where he said his views were “evolving”).

It’s pretty wild that he chose an election year to do this, and that his people decided to go with what’s right over what’s convenient. There will be some political opportunities stemming from this, but I think the risks outweigh the reward. People claim that he would have lost states where this could have an effect, but given the expected level of contention in states like North Carolina and Virginia, amongst others, I’m very skeptical of that assertion. I think the view that it’s safe if not advantageous for him to do so comes from the fact that a slim majority in national polls favor marriage equality. But we still use the electoral college and there’s quite a bit of regional disparity in that poll.

So as quickly as I muttered “about fucking time” in reaction to his statement, I also appreciated the move from a historic standpoint.

But I do have to say I’m disappointed in Obama’s assertion that in regards to this issue he still “respects states’ rights.”

When you’re talking about economics and infrastructure, I’m willing to entertain “rights of states” arguments. But just as it’s wrong for civil rights to be put up for a referendum, it’s also wrong for it to be viewed as a “state issue.” This country’s history with civil rights has proven, time and again, that it can’t be something that’s punted off to the lower levels of government just to satiate someone’s religious fervor for libertarian and/or anti-federalist ideologies.

If civil rights were left to states, we’d still have areas in this country where segregation was a mandate. To cede federal authority on such matters is wrong, and it ignores ample historical evidence that supports it.

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