Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he’s on record as favoring civil unions over marriage). But they’ve received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won’t pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom—and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that’s venomously opposed to gay marriage.