Gay-Marriage Speech Obama Should Give

The president's new campaign slogan is "Forward." On same-sex marriage, that's where he should go.

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages

Of the many hollow critiques offered by President Barack Obama's rivals, one of the hollowest is the snide charge -- from opponents of same-sex marriage -- that on the issue of same-sex marriage, "the president's position, as it sits today, is the same position as Mitt Romney's," as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on Monday.

Yeah, right. On one issue where Obama waffles, Romney -- the ultimate waffler -- agrees.

The comparison is technically false. Neither of them supports same-sex marriage now, but while Romney supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- which lets states without same-sex marriage disregard legal same-sex marriages from other states -- Obama opposes it.

And it's also untrue in spirit. Obama signed the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell," which stands as the biggest-ever nationwide gay civil rights advance. And while he has disappointed supporters with his "evolving" stance on same-sex marriage, the DADT repeal can't be underplayed. It was the president's deft touch on that issue -- unlike his heavy hand on some others -- that helped it ultimately pass without controversy.

But when Vice President Joe Biden appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday and said that he's "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage, it showed just how untenable the president's same-sex-marriage hedge has become. For Obama, the issue carries political risk. But so does maintaining the "same position" as the habitually pussyfooting Romney.

Here's why:

Gays and Lesbians

Same-sex marriage is the civil rights issue of our time. And though Obama didn't choose the issue, it chose him. As president, he's responsible for protecting equal rights, even for a minority group that's relatively small in number.

Younger Voters

A two-thirds majority of young voters support gay marriage; they only know a world where gays and lesbians -- even when they aren't always accepted -- are part of everyday life.