Recalculating the Odds: Obama and DOMA


During his campaign, Candidate Barack Obama repeatedly cited his opposition to same sex marriage. On the Human Rights Campaign’s 2008 Presidential Survey, he stated, “I do not support gay marriage. Marriage has religious and social connotations, and I consider marriage to be between a man and a woman.”  Despite his formerly firm convictions, the President has now decided that traditional marriage is no longer worth defending in the civil sphere. Having determined that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is apparently unconstitutional, he has directed the Department of Justice to stop defending the law in federal court.

What gives? If the President was being truthful in his campaign statements about the importance of traditional marriage and his opposition to same-sex marriage, why is he now acting as though he believes the opposite? Why is he harnessing the power of his office and influence to undermine a timeless and foundational social principle? Why is he jeopardizing the power of the states to address the issue of same-sex marriage as they see fit within their borders? What has changed in the last three years to set the President on this new and unprecedented course?

Mr. Obama cited his Christian faith as the primary reason for his opposition to same-sex marriage, but The Holy Scriptures – presumably the foundation for Mr. Obama’s Christian beliefs – haven’t changed in the last three years. Scripture remains, as ever, clear in its endorsement of the one man, one woman model for marriage:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. . . . But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18, 20-24, NIV)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5: 25-33, NIV)

This is presumably what the President had in mind when he referred to the “religious connotations” of traditional marriage – the idea that God intentionally designed man and woman as complementary parts of a spiritual and physical whole.

The Constitution hasn’t changed in the last three years either.  The text is the same now as it was then.  No amendments to our national charter were adopted between 2008 and 2011.

And certainly, society’s need for the nuclear family – headed by a mother and a father – hasn’t changed. On the contrary, society is suffering the ill effects of other pressures that are undermining that institution. With the advent of no-fault divorce, the upsurge in cohabitation outside of marriage, and the rise of single parent families, we have a veritable epidemic of teen pregnancies, teen suicides, childhood poverty, and academic failure. In the wake of these social pathologies – all arising from the weakening of the institution of marriage – Mr. Obama should be looking for ways to bolster the two parent heterosexual model, not abandoning it.

By declaring that Section 3 of DOMA is indefensible in court, the President has taken the first step toward completely dismantling any and all legal defenses of traditional marriage at both the state and the federal levels – religious and social connotations be damned. The gay community recognizes this and is celebrating his decision as a landmark victory for the gay marriage agenda in America.

The only thing that has changed with respect to the evolution of the President’s new found position is his political calculus. Plainly and simply, the President believes that public sentiment is shifting increasingly in favor of same sex marriage, and he feels comfortable in moderating his stance. If the President is right and that shift is occurring, it will only be a matter of time before Mr. Obama drops the charade altogether and explicitly endorses the religious and social appropriateness of same-sex marriage.

Apparently, the only firm foundation for the President’s convictions is the ever shifting tide of public opinion. That being the case, look for more such changes in the future.

2011 Ken Connor)


About Author

Kenneth L. Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society, 1220 L St. NW, Suite 100-371, Washington, DC 20005. Email: and website: