Obama's gay marriage moment


Obama: "Same sex couples should be able to get married"

It is the first big unexpected moment of the US presidential election campaign.

I was inclined to scoff when ABC called their special news report a "historic political and cultural moment", but on reflection the hype is right.

President Obama, who had looked a little lame suggesting that his position on gay marriage was evolving (and here is how it evolved) has now come out personally, firmly, in favour.

He said at one time he thought that civil partnership was enough.

But now: "I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

He said there was a generational change and cited his daughters as an example.

"There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently," he said.

"It doesn't make sense to them and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective."

Smorgasbord of policies

There is a risk in this. For some it will further brand Mr Obama as the devil in disguise, destroying the fabric of America. That sharpens the election, but it does no harm to his campaign.

Most social conservatives will not vote for Mr Obama anyway. But there are natural supporters, like African-American evangelical Christians, who won't like this.

North Carolina, an important swing state, has just voted to outlaw gay marriage and partnerships.

But Obama explicitly mentioned his religious faith:

"When we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated."

While not doubting that the president has struggled long and hard with this, this seems to me a deliberate moment.

Maybe the timing was rushed, but I am sure the campaign had looked at this again and again. I suspect they calculated this will fire up liberals, and make them more likely to vote.

It is after all not only a very divisive issue, it is something for the future, something that can "evolve" still further in a second term.

The US is a smorgasbord of policies when it comes to gay partnership rights.

At a federal level, the one thing that could be done is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. The law means that other states don't have to recognise rights granted by one state. There is no sign, and perhaps no likelihood that Mr Obama would back repeal.

But it is the logical next move and I would expect campaigners will want to know what his personal views mean in term of government policy. It's not just about the economy, after all.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    33. GatesheadDave
    One banner will be the "Stars and Bars" ever aligned with opposing human [especially minority] rights. On the upside, I expect brisk business at stores selling sheets and large non-flame retardant crosses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    11. jack "the Good solid people of North Carolina" are/were also against: mixed marriage, equal rights for non-whites, equal rights for women, abolition of slavery.

    Solid heads, indeed, and a clear pattern that spreads across the "Bible belt." Their preference is Leviticus not Jesus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    As they say, ignorance is bliss; therefore there are too many happy people posting here. If you truly believe in your God and his teachings, pay attention to all of them not just the ones that suit your agenda. Every generation makes progress on Civil Rights (abolition of slavery, vote for women, mixed-race marriages, etc.) it just takes time to weed out and marginalize the bigots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Regardless of my personal moral beliefs, I have to say that I don't see how you can legislate against gay marriage. That infringes upon someones rights and choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The world must grief at such statements from Obama. How do we intend to have future children if the same sexes are married. What is the plan for our children now? Encourage them for same sax marriages? The world is going blind. What is the thought of the low class animals such as cats, dogs, etc, will the go after the same sexes as we of the "advanced" class are doing. Shame on the world leaders

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Good grief can you fine chaps across the pond please recall this liberal Knucklead ? Perhaps this writer also missed where a Texas felon got 41% of the vote against Obama in the W Va Primaries. Obama's just desperate and grasping for votes and we're pretty sure over here that the BBC is rooting for him to get them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I hope Obama harden his stand on tax cut on super rich Americans & close all possible loopholes in corporate tax evasion.
    I'll be relieved and consider US secular democracy fully matured when I see a talented non-christian (preferably, atheist) black/brown person, brought up by a black/brown parent, becomes US president. I know that is still decades away, even in this era of 1st black president.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    tigerspirit (30),

    "... Their children have been shown to be more stable, rather than less, than children in heterosexual marriages ..."

    I didn't know that. If true, that would make interesting reading. Could you provide a reference to substantiate your claim?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    This is what I like to see my MY leader- honest & straight talk, even if that contradicts my personal faith/belief.
    Now I started preferring Sarah Palin-Maccain combo than Romney. Even a naive person with IQ below 70 like John could identify Sarah as safe VP. Dumb but honest, straight-talking person is far better than a screwed, cunning, flip-flopping business manager to trust with my country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Alas, I am deeply dissapointed in Obama. I believe he has sold his conscience in order to get re-elected. America was formed under a Christian banner and back in those days, a non-Christian could not hold any political office. Homosexuality is unbiblical and no Christian worth their salt would approve/support it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    20. Lucy J

    I have absolutely no problems with a marriage before god being sacred.
    What I do have problems with is the idea that a marriage before my or someone else's god has to follow your god's rules....

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    And my support for Obama thus switches from tepid to enthusiastic. The nation is closely dividedon the question, it takes daring to make this statement during an election year. One hopes that future historians will consider this moment in the same way they look back on Truman's order to desegregate the military in 1948; sadly, overturning homophobic laws isn't as simple as an executive order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    This was the wedge that Bush Jr won with, and Obama has put the cutting edge of it up to his political throat. Romney may stay moderate and go soft on the right's platform toward gay marriage, or he may put his boot to that wedge and give it a shove. I don't think Obama would've come down so unequivocally if he didn't have some campaign support assurance, so it's a calculated risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    ''We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness''

    Perhaps Obama will bring the USA closer to its original goal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    11. jack
    9th May 2012 - 22:12
    The President has had his say, the Good solid people of North Carolina have had theirs, Let Battle commence between those who march under the banner of the White horse and those who march under the banner of Sauron

    Sauron? Where's Gandalf when you need him!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    24 paulvanp

    “As the head of the republic he may overturn mob rule and MUST protect minorities and their rights”

    Obama can’t overturn state laws or constitutions. He can have the DOJ file a lawsuit and go through the judicial process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    23 bear85
    “My only qualm with President Obama is that this was part of his original campaign and no one seems to remember, even him”

    No one remembers because he was against same sex marriage when running for President. Or are you saying he was for it before he was against it, and is now for it again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    In Canada, gay marriage is legal. The world has not come to an end.

    Not *all* Christian churches opposed gay marriages. Many are happy to perform them. Their children have been shown to be more stable, rather than less, than children in heterosexual marriages, possibly because, so far, there seems to be less violence in these families.

    As for G-d's opinion,I'll wait to hear from Him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Obama is just doing what every other politician in the world does-looking for votes at election time.....as for his convictions-what convictions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Excellent. - It's about time someone in such a high political office made such a statement. All loony far-rights and religious nutters can now understand clearly that there are men among us who are not so insecure about themselves that they dare not rock religious and moralist boats.. - Vote Obama!! - At least he's proven more honest than previous Presidents!!


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