The culture war is back.
A federal judgeâ€™s ruling Wednesday striking down Californiaâ€™s ban on same-sex marriage is a historic and possibly pivotal legal victory for gay rights advocates, but the decision also poses a formidable threat to President Barack Obamaâ€™s strategy of relegating divisive social issues to the back burner.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walkerâ€™s decision is just the latest in a series of rulings and high-profile legal challenges drawing public attention to gay rights issues in a sustained way for the first time since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom grabbed headlines in 2004 by okaying same-sex marriages in that city.
As gay and lesbian activists celebrate what they hope is the leading edge of a wave of momentous court rulings and legislative successes, they remain uneasy with Obamaâ€™s nuanced position on gay marriage.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama took what many on both sides of the gay marriage debate viewed as a straddle. He publicly announced his opposition to same-sex marriage, but he also said that he opposed the California ballot measure seeking to ban it, Prop. 8â€” the same ban Walker ruled unconstitutional Wednesday.