Is the evolution over yet?
President Obama has described his views on same-sex marriage as "evolving" from his one-time opposition, hinting to liberals he will at some embrace it. But when Obama appears at a fundraiser specifically for New York City’s LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) on Thursday evening, he may be pressed on the issue.
The appearance comes as the New York Senate is soon momentarily expected to consider a bill that would make the state the sixth to legalize same-sex marriage.
The fundraiser, one of three the president will attend in New York City on Thursday, is hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie Howser, MD” and “How I Met Your Mother”). It will also include other entertainment figures such as actresses Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) and Audra McDonald (“Private Practice”), as well former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who championed the passage of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military when he served in Congress.
Obama aides have so far not commented on the president’s views on the New York legislation. (Obama’s support would not affect the legislation, as marriage law is determined by states) And gay rights activists, frustrated with Obama earlier in his term, have toned down their criticism following the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal in December and the president’s decision earlier this year to stop the federal government support of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
At the same time, Obama must deal with the perception that his position is entirely political and that he personally supports same-sex marriage but won’t say so for fear of alienating more conservative voters ahead of the 2012 elections.
His indecision on the issue puts him to the right of former vice president Richard B.Cheney, a staunch conservative who nonetheless two years ago said he would have no problem with states legalizing gay unions. One of Cheney’s daughters is openly gay.
There is not a formal public question and answer session at Thursday’s event. But people who attend New York fundraisers are known for shouting at whoever is the speaker and forcing him to respond.
Before appearing in New York City, Obama heads to Fort Drum in upstate New York to meet with soldiers, a day after he announced his plan for a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.