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Posted at 5:03 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Barbara Bush, gay marriage & Obama

By Jonathan Capehart

Presidents have secret meetings all the time to help them figure out what to do about thorny issues. And they'll even meet with some unlikely folks to get insight they might not get from members of their own party or their own staff. A perfect example was President Obama's previously unreported meeting after the midterm elections with Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Dowd was among many the president reached out to help him understand what he needed to do to reset his presidency.

In that spirit, I want to propose that Obama conduct a series of under-the-radar meetings to help him in the "evolution" of his stance and thinking on same-sex marriage. And there's no better group to enlist in this effort than -- wait for it -- Republicans!

Former first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney, his daughter Mary Cheney, Meghan McCain and Ken Mehlman are just a few of the high-profile Republicans to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. And now they welcome to the fold Barbara Bush, the daughter of Laura and President George W. Bush. In a video for "New Yorkers for Marriage Equality" released Tuesday, the 29-year-old Manhattanite put herself to the left of Obama on the issue.

Marriage equality is becoming less of an issue for the general public. A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that 56 percent of New Yorkers favored same-sex marriage. And lest you think that number is driven by left-of-left Manhattan please note that clear majorities upstate (54 percent), the suburbs (61 percent) and the five boroughs of New York City (55 percent) favor allowing same-sex couples to marry. The state senate better keep this in mind when it votes again on the issue this spring.

Meanwhile, support elsewhere for same-sex marriage is rising. No, like Obama, the nation is not quite there.


According to a May 2010 Gallup poll, only 44 percent of Americans favor it. A Pew Research poll last October pegged support at 42 percent.


But in both the Gallup (above) and the Pew (right) polls there is growing support for same-sex marriage. No wonder Vice President Biden called marriage equality in the U.S. "inevitable." What would hasten that inevitability is outspoken support for it from the president.

As I've written before, Obama has a lot of gay friends and gay staffers. He is not unsympathetic to or lacking in empathy for the desires of full acceptance of gay men and lesbians in committed relationships. That he has said more than once that his thinking is evolving on this issue suggests that he is open to being convinced. A confab with, say, Barbara Bush, Meghan McCain and Ken Mehlman, in addition to others willing to talk this through with him, could finally put the president where he belongs on marriage equality: the right side of history.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 1, 2011; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Who cares what she has to say. And in what world is she a New Yorker?

Posted by: mjwies11 | February 1, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"Who cares what she has to say. And in what world is she a New Yorker?"

Interesting question. And by the same token, who cares what the "Pope" has to say about gay marriage in New York? He's not gay, at least not openly so; he's not interested in getting married; and he isn't a New Yorker. So the logic behind your question extends really well.

As to the second question, she's a New Yorker because she lives in New York. It's a subtle thing. Don't worry if it takes time to understand.

Posted by: VirileneManly | February 1, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Cool. Go Yalie.
Onward to full marriage equality rights now. Period.
Cheers, Joe Mustich, Officiant,
Red Studio Farm, Washington Green, CT USA.

Posted by: cornetmustich | February 1, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Cool. Go Yalie.
Onward to full marriage equality rights now. Period.
Cheers, Joe Mustich, Officiant,
Red Studio Farm, Washington Green, CT USA.

Posted by: cornetmustich | February 1, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

"And in what world is she a New Yorker?"

She lives in Greenwich Village, which just happens to be in New York. By the grammatical rules of the English language, that means that she is a New Yorker.

Posted by: psiphiorg | February 1, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes, it helps to de-personalize the issue.
I am certain to never marry a gay person, male or female.
I also have no problem with someone else making a different choice.
I don't see it as a big problem.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | February 1, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse


I hope one day, your mother gets too see you wearing her dress, and your father giving you away.

Posted by: Defund_NPR | February 1, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

a cousin told a friend who lives in ny she might be gay

Posted by: schmidt1 | February 1, 2011 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I care very much what the young generation has to say. Lovely Miss Bush has expressed her opinion and I thank you.
Our great nation is prouder and stronger because of the bright and intelligent young people who want equal rights for everyone. They judge by character and not color, race, sex or economic status.

Posted by: cjackman | February 1, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

why do we want to control everyone? Government free marriage is the only way to fix this issue. Time to change the argument. Why are we asking the government to control our lives? Why do we want the government to recognize anything? For or against should not be the argument, government free marriage NOW!

Posted by: sarah9miller | February 1, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

mjwies11 and Defund_NPR, you are beneath contempt. Jonathan, you got this exactly right.

Posted by: DaveinNorthridge | February 1, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Barbara is ignorant. She should think before she speaks. We live in a river of time-- what we do affects the people downstream. What people did before us has had an influence on our living. That being said I know many gay people. There have always been gay people, even years and years ago!! Marriage was never on the table because marriage is for procreation of our human beinghood. It leads to the future. It creates little people but oh wait we abort them now........and create the ones we want in surrogates. It is not right....we must think about the future of the people that will come after us and about our future life with GOD our Father in heaven. But thats not popular either. Just because we think it doesn't hurt anyone doesn't mean it will not. The honor and privilage of Marriage is for one man and one woman. The parts fit and are made for each other-- and there is a good reason they do!

Posted by: irishtammy | February 1, 2011 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like she is throwing a dart at Daddy...Why comment to the media at all???

And who cares what she has to say?? It changes nothing in the world order...just one person's opinion on a subject...Just like mine or Cheney's daughter...See where I'm coming from???

Posted by: pentagon40 | February 2, 2011 1:56 AM | Report abuse

so sick of this gay marriage crap! if we're going to redefine marriage, why don't we just let folks who want to marry their daughter, son, brother, etc as well? as sick as that may sound, it's still nobody's business, right? what the hell is this world coming to? marriage means 1 man to 1 woman who are not related to each other.

Posted by: rhonda307 | February 2, 2011 5:24 AM | Report abuse

Marriage has meant one man and one woman, it has meant one man and many women, and it can certainly mean two men or two women. Just because we were once ignorant does not mean we have to stay ignorant. All educated people now know that all people are not meant to procreate with the opposite sex just like we now know the earth is round.

Posted by: withersb | February 2, 2011 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I have no respect for Bushies who thundered against gay marriage to get their puppet into office while simultaneously attending the commitment ceremonies of their gay Republican colleagues, people like Matthew Dowd, for instance. Like marijuana, it's OK for rich young conservatives in Ivy League universities but not for regular, working-class Americans.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | February 2, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

irishtammy: "Marriage was never on the table because marriage is for procreation of our human beinghood."

Rubbish. People beyond childbearing age, or otherwise incapable of having children, aren't prohibited from marrying, and never have been. Married people often choose not to have children, and society doesn't force them to dissolve their marriages. You'll need a better argument than procreation to justify unequal treatment of gay citizens.

Posted by: Reason7 | February 2, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

What has caused the state of the World.
One cause, sodomistic Marriage's.

Posted by: bilmul83 | February 2, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

What has caused the World crisis/
One cause , same sex marriage's.

Posted by: bilmul83 | February 2, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

rhonda307: "so sick of this gay marriage crap! if we're going to redefine marriage, why don't we just let folks who want to marry their daughter, son, brother, etc as well? as sick as that may sound, it's still nobody's business, right? what the hell is this world coming to? marriage means 1 man to 1 woman who are not related to each other."

More rubbish. In biblical times folks DID marry their daughters, sons, brothers etc. But times change.... most of us learn things and change with them. The earth isn't flat nor is it the center of the universe, inbreeding isn't a good thing, and no one in society is harmed by same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Reason7 | February 2, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Try to be honest when not subnitting my comments.

Semper Fi

Posted by: bilmul83 | February 2, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I live in Massachusetts and have several gay/lesbian friends who have been couples for many years. Some have married, others have not. Just like heterosexual couples. The only way having same sex marriage in Massachusetts has changed my life is that I got to go to two parties to celebrate two marriages. Other than that, my life as a heterosexual, older widowed woman hasn't changed a bit.

Why are so many people so against this? Why shouldn't everyone have the same rights? And, while we're at it, let's eliminate the Defense of Marriage Act. Let's change immigration laws so that same sex couples can marry and have the same rights there also.

Posted by: bellerita | February 2, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Once again, I'm going to spend an enture day not thinking much about gay marriage. Sure, our friends Cate and Martha would like to be legally married here in Florida, and we'd be happy for them. So let them get marrid.

My wife is not a Republican, so I doubt that if we legalize gay marriage she'll leave me for a woman. And I'm not going to leave her for a man.

Sheesh. Much nutsiness over nothing.

Posted by: roblimo | February 2, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

mjwies11 wrote: "And in what world is she a New Yorker?"

She lives, pay taxes, and votes there. Makes her a citizen of New York, right?

Thank you Barbara for supporting gay marriage.

Posted by: katedog | February 2, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

We are such a puritanical gov. leading to great hypocrisy that we are way behind the civilized world on most social issues. Europe laughs at us as mistress and wife attend their man's funeral. It is time for DADT to be extinct, gay marriage to start and Obie stop looking to his next election, (he won't be) and move on all matters without having to be pushed on everything. Its not prudence Obie, its vascillation. Stop sending all that money to countries that don't need it or will respend it in America to support our corporations. War material a main example. As for change ha! My supposedly fine health insurance ended therapy and had increased its price. Is that the change we are getting? No real attention to foreclosures , if houses are being sold now its the ones the banks took back. So much wrong and barely anything being done.
Yes gay marriage, although I believe, engagement ring, wedding ring, SUFFERING........

Posted by: gany1 | February 2, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

1.when you take boundaries off of marriage where do you stop...more than one? Relatives ?why not? it wouldn't be "fair"to those who want those options
2.female sexuality has been proven to be fluid so should a historical institution be changed based on potentially temporary feelings. The institution was originally instituted to protect women and children. Either leave it alone or get the governments approval out of it completely
3.After marriage comes children, either through adoption or insemination and which parent is disposable for those children? The father ?no the mother ?no All studies indicate children are better off with frequent male and female influence, inconvenient but true. Leave the institution alone and accept that the benefits are not worth it

Posted by: allsides | February 2, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

billmul is joking right? All the world leaders are, at least outwardly, heterosexual married people. And gay marriage has caused all the world's problems? Imagine that.

Posted by: mikel7 | February 2, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Just sayin': The other bush daughter, Jenna, was the hot looking one. Barbara has certainly grown from the plain Jane.

Posted by: mikel7 | February 2, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

allsides: "All studies indicate children are better off with frequent male and female influence, inconvenient but true."

Considering the multitude of absentee deadbeat dads in our society, it's unlikely that a relatively small number of same-sex parenting households is going to make a significant difference. The institution you'd like to see left alone is pretty much of a failure.

Posted by: Reason7 | February 2, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Why is the Post's principle advocate for gays endorsing secret White House meetings during Obama's age of "transparency"? Oh, yeah. Anything to advance his cause.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 2, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan, you're right, the momentum is clearly there. Most young Americans, regardless of their political ideology, are simply not upset by homosexuality. To them, the demonization of it seems ridiculous. VP Biden's comment, that marriage equality is inevitable, seems obvious. The political will is building for it, though I'm not as certain as you are that President Obama's vocal support for it will hasten the change. I do know this: if Obama feels the timing is right and his voiced support will help, he will give it.

@irishtammy: My husband and I have been unable to bear children, but we are most certainly married in the eyes of God, as well as the government. We made no guarantees to bear children when we got married. Oh, and it's been just the two of us for twenty-five years, but we are definitely a family nonetheless. I propose that it's arrogant and a defiance of Jesus's teachings for you to presume who qualifies as a family. I see a lack of humility in your piety, and I think you are making a grave error.

@Defund_NPR: Jonathan disagrees with your views, but he's a decent man who deserves respect. I wonder if you would be so ugly if you didn't have the luxury of anonymity. In other words, you're probably mean AND a coward. Self awareness alert: You're not clever. You sound like a bitter old jackass social misfit who is usually the only one laughing at his own jokes. Now, run along. I'm sure there's a fresh Limbaugh podcast that needs your attention.

@allsides: Rubbish. Marriage equality isn't about "taking away boundaries" from marriage. It's about equality for two consenting adult human beings to marry, regardless of gender. Period. And marriage will be defined -- as it always has -- as our society sees fit. In our contemporary society, it appears your demands are losing favor. You will have to find a way to accept it.

Posted by: austinlcj | February 2, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"Everyone should have the right to marry the person THEY love." I listened to it twice to make sure I heard her correctly. Don't they teach grammar in the Texas public schools, let alone at Harvard? And her mother was a librarian!

Posted by: imzadi | February 2, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry folks, everyone takes this so personally. My comments are about society in general. Not all married couples procreate and that is fine, their choice, they are open to it if they want and are able (includes older folks). BUT society has existed because marriage is between one man and one woman and they procreated. Marriage has never been on the table for a deal in older societies. You all do realize we are not the first to live on this planet. THe traditional family unit was and is insurance that the community will live on. The general feeling today is if it doesn't hurt me it's fine. Not so, nor should it be. People need to think before making statement and Jenna Bush certainly iss not. Marriage should continue to be defined as this. If gay people want to proclaim themselves to each other go ahead but do not take the definition marriage away from the family unit. Children IN GENERAL need a mom and dad. Hey our best friends and neighbors growing up did not have children, they took care of their older mother, They had a wonderful marriage but they are all gone now. My family who lived across the street has over 20 descendants. One of the grandchilden to marry soon, life goes on.............

Posted by: irishtammy | February 2, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

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