Shifting Opinion on Gay Marriage
WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) - One way for President Barack Obama to win the future, it seems, is to have his administration stop defending a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.
Opinion polls show a steady rise in Americans' embrace of gay rights, and young voters solidly back positions their grandparents opposed, including gay marriage.
"Anybody under the age of 40 doesn't care, or actively supports it," said Steve Elmendorf, a longtime Democratic staffer and lobbyist.
The administration said Wednesday it no longer would defend the constitutionality of the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Attorney General Eric Holder cited recent shifts in legal thought, not public opinion, in explaining the decision.
"Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed" the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which barred service by openly gay men and women.
Five or so years ago, Obama's decision might have touched off fierce Republican criticisms. But reaction Wednesday was comparatively sparse and muted from mainstream GOP groups and individuals.
Most of the Republicans weighing a presidential bid were silent, as was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
One exception was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an evangelical minister who is considering a second try for the presidency.
"I think it was an absolutely boneheaded political move, and I think it was a boneheaded policy move," Huckabee said in an interview.
He said Obama seems to say, "I don't answer to the voters."
At least 30 states have held referendums on the issue, Huckabee said, and "without exception, when the voters decide, they always decide to affirm marriage" between a man and woman. …