Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama first sitting U.S. President to speak in favor of same sex marriage

When President Obama spoke to Good Morning America on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 about his evolving feelings about same sex marriage, he became the first sitting American President to support same sex marriage. The Boston Globe ran a very nice article about the interview, which ran in two parts. There was a "breaking news" interruption of soap operas on Wednesday morning, and a longer airing of the full taped interview on Thursday.
Obama said his position on same-sex marriage evolved over several years as he spoke with friends, family, and neighbors about it. He cited the influence of members of his staff “who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together,’’ and the gay soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors “who are out there fighting on my behalf’’ but not allowed to marry. (snip) Obama said he has “stood on the side of broader equality’’ for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, “and I’d hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient . . . and I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word ‘marriage’ is something that evokes powerful tradition and religious beliefs.’’
The article quoted some activists who were angry and disappointed at the timing of the President's announcement, coming right after the North Carolina vote to amend their state constitution to ban same sex marriage on Tuesday, May 8. The President, in fact, expressed his disappointment in the voting outcome.

Obama's opponent in the Presidential race, Mitt Romney, when governor of Massachusetts, unsuccessfully sought several times to find a legislative way to overcome the judicial opinion that legalized same sex marriage in our state. He has stated that he opposes same sex unions and would support a federal Constitution ban on gay marriage. He would also support the current Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). So there is a clear split between the candidates on this issue. Obama does say that he supports individual states' right to decide for themselves how to treat the issue, so he does not contemplate a federal law that would override state laws on the matter.

I was listening to the radio on Thursday, and they were interviewing people about their reaction to the announcement. One gay journalist said that he really had not expected that the announcement would have much affect on him, but when he actually heard his President speaking words that reaffirmed his humanity, he was so moved that he burst into tears.

This is a civil rights issue. It is about treating people with dignity and equality. Bless President Obama for taking a huge step and doing the right thing in this area. I hope it does not hurt his campaign, but only helps.

1 comment:

Marie S. Newman said...

Dahlia Lithwick wrote an asute piece about President Obama's evolution on this issue which I recommend to readers of OOTJ:

Her conclusion: its about empathy.