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The crucial topic missing from the State of the Union address [updated]

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 15, 2016

He was raised in the US, but has lived for years in Australia, so Michael Cook of MercatorNet has an interesting perspective on American political affairs: that of someone who speaks the language—the language of US politics, I mean—but does not hear it constantly. From that perspective, Cook notices the most interesting aspect of President Obama’s State of the Union address:

It is astonishing that he failed to mention the most controversial and potentially the most significant domestic issue of 2015.

And what is that issue? The Supreme Court’s unilateral legalization of same-sex marriage. Had you forgotten? Have Americans in general forgotten?

Less than a year after that fateful decision, same-sex marriage is not a hot political topic. Even though the Supreme Court decision was extremely controversial, and even though this is an election year, when most political candidates are actively looking for controversies to exploit, this topic isn’t high on the public agenda. Sad to say, most Americans seem inclined to accept the idea that this radical and destructive Supreme Court decision is irreversible—“settled law,” you know—and moved on to other issues.

Revealing, isn’t it, that it took someone living in Australia to notice the crucial topic that President Obama didn’t address?

Correction: Several readers have written to point out that President Obama actually did speak about same-sex marriage.

In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love. 

Still that quick, passing reference is in no way commensurate with the importance of the issue. And it is revealing that the President did not quite spell out what had happened-- the legal redefinition of marriage-- even as he implied that his administration (rather than the Supreme Court) was responsible. So although Michael Cook was wrong, insofar as Obama did mention the topic, he still has a point, insofar as the topic passed below the radar. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jan. 17, 2016 12:07 AM ET USA

    Forget the decision? Hardly. It keeps me awake on a regular basis, rosary in hand.