Okay. I’ve never taken a constitutional law class, much less taught one, but if Obama had asked me, back in 2009, if I thought he (in the form of his Justice Department) should defend the horridly-named Defense of Marriage Act, I would have said Are you crazy?
And if he’d said Well, there’s precedent for the Justice Department to defend laws that are on the books until Congress changes them, I would have said Well there’s precedent and there’s what’s right, not to mention what’s constitutional.
And just to reprise what I wrote about it back then, when Obama didn’t ask me:
Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.
The Supreme Court of the United States, June 12, 1967
Obama wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for this ruling (Loving vs. Virginia, against miscegenation laws), so it’s incomprehensible to me that his Justice Department is trying to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (enacted under Clinton, of all people, who maybe thought he could bring some sanctity back to his own marriage if he kept gay people from joining him).
So now, one year and seven months later, the New York Times tells us Obama has suddenly changed his mind? What took so long?
It’s the process, not the content (a distinction management consultants are wont to preach about), of course, that bothers me. I once worked for a guy who was very smart, and very adamant about what he thought were his smart decisions. He reversed himself once, and when I pointed out his previous position, he said something like Well you can’t expect me to be consistent – which made absolutely no sense to me. If you’re smart, and thoughtful, you think things through before you act, and you don’t need to reverse yourself.
And I just can’t imagine that a thoughtful former Constitutional law professor didn’t think this through in 2009. So what gives?