No, Romney and Obama Don't Have the Same Position on Gay Marriage

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 7 2012 3:22 PM

No, Romney and Obama Don't Have the Same Position on Gay Marriage

It's fair for Reince Priebus to knock Barack Obama's gay marriage stance. The stance is a ruse. It's bunk. Obama doesn't believe it. We all know that. There's a list of issues about which Romney can say he has been consistent and honest and Obama hasn't. It's a short list. I may have just exhausted it.

But this, from Priebus, is ridiculous and revealing.

Quite frankly, Andrea, the president’s position as it sits today is the same position as Mitt Romney, because isn’t the president saying that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman?

Perhaps Priebus was calibrating the message for the audience -- MSNBC -- but he knows that Obama punts on marriage while Romney takes and runs 100 yards down the field. Barack Obama's DOJ won't defend the Defense of Marriage Act; Romney has said he would defend it. Romney's signed the National Organization for Marriage's very specific five-part pledge -- one of a select number of pledges he deigned to sign. (Recall that he blew off the Iowa FAMiLY Leader pledge and forced the organization to rewrite it.)

Screen shot 2012-05-07 at 2.29.34 PM

So: Romney's committed to a federal marriage amendment. Has Obama ever spoken about such an amendment? Yes. He was against it.

And that leads to my question about Romney/Priebus. Why say that the candidate merely agrees with Obama about the definition of marriage? Why not point out how far he's willing to go for it? Anti-Goodrich statements from 2005, NOM from 2011 --  stuff like that? Last week, both Gail Gitcho and Eric Ferhnstrom, speaking for the Romney campaign, stood up for departed, openly gay aide Ric Grenell and attacked -- without naming -- the "agents of intolerence" who opposed him. If you were a cynic, you might wonder whether the campaign wanted to blur the distinctions on gay rights, instead of taking credit for the NOM blood oath Romney agreed to when he was fending off Rick Perry.

UPDATE: Zack Ford, plumbing the Preibus interview, points out that he doesn't even endorse the Romney position -- he says you "can't federalize" a marriage definition. Except that Romney's signed a pledge promising to back a federal amendment!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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