Barbara Bush, marriage equality & Obama

Posted by Jonathan Capehart on

"Presidents have secret meetings all the time to help them figure out what to do about thorny issues. And they'll even meet with some unlikely folks to get insight they might not get from members of their own party or their own staff. A perfect example was President Obama's previously unreported meeting after the midterm elections with Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Dowd was among many the president reached out to help him understand what he needed to do to reset his presidency.

"In that spirit, I want to propose that Obama conduct a series of under-the-radar meetings to help him in the "evolution" of his stance and thinking on marriage equality. And there's no better group to enlist in this effort than -- wait for it -- Republicans!

"Former first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney, his daughter Mary Cheney, Meghan McCain and Ken Mehlman are just a few of the high-profile Republicans to come out in favor of the freedom to marry. And now they welcome to the fold Barbara Bush, the daughter of Laura and President George W. Bush. In a video for "New Yorkers for Marriage Equality" released Tuesday, the 29-year-old Manhattanite put herself to the left of Obama on the issue.

"Marriage equality is becoming less of an issue for the general public. A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that 56 percent of New Yorkers favored marriage for same-sex couples. And lest you think that number is driven by left-of-left Manhattan please note that clear majorities upstate (54 percent), the suburbs (61 percent) and the five boroughs of New York City (55 percent) favor allowing same-sex couples to marry. The state senate better keep this in mind when it votes again on the issue this spring.

"Meanwhile, support elsewhere for marriage equality is rising. ...

GALLUPpollGAY.jpg"According to a May 2010 Gallup poll, only 44 percent of Americans favor it. A Pew Research poll last October pegged support at 42 percent.


"But in both the Gallup (above) and the Pew (right) polls there is growing support for the freedom to marry. No wonder Vice President Biden called marriage equality in the U.S. "inevitable." What would hasten that inevitability is outspoken support for it from the president.

"As I've written before, Obama has a lot of gay friends and gay staffers. He is not unsympathetic to or lacking in empathy for the desires of full acceptance of gay men and lesbians in committed relationships. That he has said more than once that his thinking is evolving on this issue suggests that he is open to being convinced. A confab with, say, Barbara Bush, Meghan McCain and Ken Mehlman, in addition to others willing to talk this through with him, could finally put the president where he belongs on marriage equality: the right side of history."

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