Marriage equality is once again at the forefront of the political arena in the United States. While the issue has always been emotionally and politically charged, it’s taken on a new intensity since Obama announced that he supports gay marriage.
For those of us on the pro-equality side, this is a huge step. Obama has officially separated himself from every other sitting US President with his support. Thank you, Barack Obama, for living in the present and recognizing the future, rather than obsessing over the past. Thank you for NOT being a homophobic bully, and thank you for supporting equal rights for the LGBT community.
Obama’s announcement has triggered intense reactions from all sides. Politicians, celebrities, religious leaders and the American public alike are all weighing in. Mitt Romney, the republican most likely to challenge Obama in the 2012 Presidential race, was quick to remind us that he is opposed to same-sex marriage. This has provided a rallying point for conservative Christians in the US, and given them new leverage in their anti-Obama attacks. It’s also provided a reinforced point of support for Romney’s bid for President.
“So many people were rather lukewarm toward governor Romney and were really looking for some more tangible reasons to support him,” said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, who led the ballot drive that banned gay marriage in Ohio in 2004. “Then lo and behold, it just fell out of the sky when Obama came out and endorsed same-sex marriage. . . . We are going to make this our key issue: the attack on marriage.” (The Washington Post, May 11, 2012)
Regardless of the political turmoil, Obama’s support has offered renewed life to the fight for marriage equality. Not only has Obama supported marriage equality at full strength, he’s offered a clear path for others to publicly endorse it as well.
“Voters and elected officials who might have wanted to step up and have been afraid, they will be less afraid do to do so now,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in a conversation.
Obama, she said, has cleared “political space for other elected officials who may have felt they could not be as clear” as they now can be. She added: “I predict that every person running for office this year will be asked this question.” (BBC News, May 10, 2012)
Given the reaction to Obama’s announcement over the past few days, it’s easy to see that the coming weeks and months are going to be interesting, to put it mildly. Whether this will be helpful or detrimental to Obama’s campaign for re-election is yet to be determined. For now, I’m holding onto faith that Americans will opt for progression rather than regression. Fingers crossed!
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