Politico: Obama 'Out of Step' with Pro-Gay Rights Sentiment

President Obama is apparently out of touch with Americans on gay right issues according to the June 4 article by Politico's Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin. In the article “Gay Groups Grow Impatient With Obama,” Smith and Martin criticized Obama for the not taking an active role in supporting gay rights, such as same-sex marriage. But Smith and Martin paint an inaccurate portrayal of the American peoples' stance toward same-sex marriage.

The article was critical of Obama for not helping advance gay and lesbian rights “President Barack Obama's promises of change are falling short for one core Democratic constituency: gays and lesbians.”  But Obama never promised to change traditional marriage during the 2008 presidential campaign.

According to Smith and Martin, “Gay rights issues have been moving at breakneck speed, none faster than same-sex marriage. Most public opinion polls now show more than 40 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, seen as a fringe issue just a few years earlier.” Yet, a recent Gallup poll found that attitudes toward same-sex marriage have changed little over the last year. Fifty-seven percent oppose same-sex marriage.

Smith and Martin instead wrote, “Already, five New England states and Iowa have  same-sex marriage laws on the books.” That's correct, but 44 states don't, and according to Concerned Women for America, thirty-one states have an amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and women.

The authors pointed to California's Proposition 8, and how “some of the same voters who overwhelmingly elected Obama also passed a referendum barring same-sex marriage.” While that would seem to counter their argument that Obama is ignoring public sentiment, they quickly moved on to the bright side: “Proposition 8 has since energized the state's gay rights movement.”  They ignored the fact that Proposition 8 was upheld in California by a Supreme Court ruling on May 26 after it passed by fifty-two percent of the voters in November of 2008.

Smith and Martin also made it appear that more people support same-sex marriage because of the unbalanced sources they quoted: Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Service members Legal Defense Networks, veteran gay rights activist David Mixner and gay blogger John Aravosis. Representative Jared Polis, a gay Democrat from Colorado, was also quoted.

 Even the political figures mentioned leaned towards the left: Celinda Lake, is a Democratic pollester and Sen. Chuck Schumer is Democrat from New York. Howard Dean, who has come out in support of same-sex marriage, was even quoted. The only mention of a Republican was of former Vice-president Dick Cheney, but he had just announced his support for same-sex marriage.

Smith and Martin set out to prove that Obama is out of touch with Americans' and their attitude towards same-sex marriage. But even with selective, unbalanced reporting  they sorely missed their mark.