More than a few high-profile Democrats have been walking the same line on gay marriage that President Obama walked until today: dutifully supporting the repeal of discriminatory measures like the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy, and in many cases even supporting civil unions—but stopping short of an outright endorsement of marriage equality.
But these Democrats are marching without a leader, now that the president has announced a change of heart. As Richard Kim points out, since Obama stressed that he thinks states should decide the gay marriage issue, this is a step shy of endorsing full marriage equality—but it still suddenly places Obama to the left of many high-profile Democrats, many of whom are up for re-election this fall.
Twenty-two Democratic Senators support gay rights and are explicitly pushing for that plank to be added to the Democratic Party platform this summer, something that seems all the more likely now. But here’s a quick look at some others who are probably huddled with advisers as we speak, trying to figure out if they, too, should “evolve.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada
This is a big one. Re-elected in 2010 to what many believe could be his last term in the Senate, Reid has been a good advocate for LGBT Americans on many issues—under his leadership the Senate repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and rejected Republican attempts to strip LGBT protections from the Violence Against Women Act. He’s also repeatedly voted against constitutional amendments that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.