As I noted the other day, although President Obama hadn’t said “I fully support gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry,” it was clear he did. His administration has done more to improve the lives of gay and lesbian Americans that any other administration in the history of this country.
Well today, a lot sooner that I ever imagined he would, our President affirmed his support of marriage equality stating during an interview with an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts:
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point 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.
This is an historic statement. For the first time in our country’s history, a sitting president has stated his support for marriage equality. Sure, some will say this is all “politics” or that his hand was forced after Vice President Biden’s appearance this past weekend on Meet the Press, and there may be some truth to those claims, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the President made these remarks on the day after voters in North Carolina passed Amendment 1 that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions (and so denies both unmarried gay and hetero couples rights for which they pay taxes) despite the fact gay marriage was already illegal there; now it’s unconstitutional. Thus NC’s Amendment 1 goes further than the other southern states’ anti-gay bills. Religious bigotry and rednecks make for awful, inhumane policies.
It is also not a coincidence that President Obama notes that his thinking about marriage equality has been shaped by his wife, his kids, his friends, and others. Or that surveys by various national media pollsters have shown a consistent, ongoing trend toward support of same-sex marriage, with slightly more Americans offering support than opposition in measurements taken over the past year. Or that for a majority of young people, the only issue with regard to marriage equality is that there are actually people who don’t support it.
Whether Obama’s embrace of same-sex marriage will further shift opinions on this issue remains to be seen, but if the GOP makes this an issue in the upcoming election, I say more power to them. The more they focus on wedge issues and anything other than the economy, the more votes they hand to President Obama.