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“What The Hell’s The Presidency For?”

10 May

In light of one refreshingly frank rhetorical question from President Lyndon Johnson almost 50 years ago, President Obama might very well be asking himself the same thing today.  Considering Mr. Obama’s now-clarified support of same-sex marriage, it seems a very solid question on which to base his announcement.

In addition to the expected widespread liberal praise, agreement with the president’s viewpoint is coming even from conservative sources.  Former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson, who more than two years ago wrote the conservative case for gay marriage, wasted no time yesterday in reminding us Mr. Obama has it right.  In fact, Mr. Olson goes on to articulate precisely the argument that too often seems to be forgotten:

“How many citizens would have voted to continue separate-but-equal schools, if you’d put that to a vote in 1954? In fact, in 1967, there were 14 states that prohibited interracial marriages, indeed made interracial marriages a felony, and the Supreme Court struck down those laws unanimously in 1967.”  (Avlon, DB 5/9/12)

It’s been said before and will be said again:  Civil rights, for any group at any time, need not be put to a popular vote.  Why gay marriage continues to be left to “the will of the people” certainly baffles many of us.  Nevertheless, President Obama has now placed himself in the position of initiating some real and permanent change on this matter, while perhaps drawing on the experience of LBJ.  After all, the question that rang true in 1963 should certainly carry its weight in most any circumstance.

Regardless of what comes next, at least Mr. Obama is no longer “evolving.”  And in spite of all the tension, argument and debate, we always need a good chuckle!

 

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