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Obama (Or His Surrogates) Now Support Gay Marriage

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Jan 4, 2012
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Although President Obama has yet to come out and say he fully supports gay marriage he has told the media that his views are evolving and it is very likely that he could announce his support in the next election.

Many members of Obama’s administration have publicly supported gay rights and marriage equality, however. Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a landmark speech in Geneva and said that the U.S. would give aid to gay rights organizations around the world, which Obama fully endorsed. In addition, the Secretary of Housing, Shaun Donovan, said in an interview that he supported same-sex marriage, the New York Times reported in a Dec. 30 article. Obama, however, made no comment about Donovan’s statement and the White House said he speaks alone.

Gay rights advocates and Obama’s administration officials claim that the president is aware that more and more people are supporting gay rights and same-sex marriage, especially among young voters. Obama, however, is worried that he will be pulled into a culture-war issue, allowing Republicans to gain more votes from evangelical voters and black voters.

"Every single American -- gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender -- every single American deserves to be treated equally before the law," Obama told a gay rights group late last year.

Brian Moulton, chief legal counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, told Politico in a Dec. 19 article that the White House is doing a good job at extending gay rights to the LGBT community.

"There’s always more to do, and we continue to lobby the administration to do and make changes," Moulton said.

Some gay rights advocates claim that Obama could announce his support for gay marriage before the election in November since polling data shows that more voters are supporting same-sex marriage.

An April CNN poll showed that 51 percent believe that gay marriage "should be recognized by the law as valid."

"Gay voters will be more enthusiastic for him than we would have been a year ago," said Richard Socarides, a Democratic political strategist who worked with President Bill Clinton on gay-rights issues.

"My core argument is that you’ve got a lot to win and not a lot to lose," said Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry, an organization that advocates for marriage rights. "It would remove a constant irritating false note, and it would allow him to tap into an unmitigated good stream of energy."

Some believe that Obama can still win the gay vote based only on his first term in office as he determined that the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. In addition, the president also repealed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Act (DADT), which prohibited gay military members from openly serving in the military.

The current GOP candidates may have made it easier for Obama to earn gay votes as many have stated a number of times that they do not support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. Newt Gingrich even told a gay voter to vote for Obama if gay marriage was the most important issue to him, EDGE reported in a Dec. 22 article. The other candidates, such as Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann have been called out by LGBT supporters are their anti-gay views.

Socarides says in a Dec. 19 New York Times article that Obama needs to "remind people that respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the courts are principles upon which this country was founded. As Americans living in a society that is dynamic and changing, we have always looked to the courts to interpret what it means to be part of our democracy."

He goes on to say that these principles should apply to same-sex marriage and that if the president supports gay marriage it will be "an important symbolic and substantive turning point."

"It would likely accelerate the pro-equality shift in public opinion, including in minority communities," he writes. "It will make it easier for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, to rule in favor of gay rights in the face of arguments that doing so is out of the mainstream of American political thought."

A number of gay rights supporters also say that Obama should tell the American public that he fully supports gay marriage.

"I think if he did come out and say, ’Yes, I believe gay people are equal,’ you’d have a lot of [gay and straight] volunteers," Dan Choi, a former Army officer who supported the repeal of DADT said. "But as of right now, I do not think I should endorse a president that does not endorse my right to full personhood."

John Aravosis, a gay activist and founder of AmericaBlog, said that the president should fully support same-sex marriage because Christian conservatives and others who are against gay marriage will most likely not vote for him anyway.

Even though Obama has been slowly changing his views on gay rights many activists are still skeptical and even doubt that he will support same-sex marriage in the upcoming election because it would mean risking his political future.

This article is part of our "Election 2012" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-01-04 17:16:18

    Anyone who thought the President was going to vote for gay marriage in his first term was deluding themselves. He repealed DADT, and now can use gay marriage and the repeal of DOMA as a very strong motivator to garner virtually every gay vote out there. This is simply the political reality. No president can do in 4 years all that e wants. The Secretary of State set the world stage for enhancing gay -human- rights. Now the President can capitalize on the 80% of Americans that feel gay marriage is long over due. And in doing so will only emphasize what hateful ignorant people the republican nominees really are. Just wait, Mitt Romney will select that porker from NJ as his running mate and the two of them will lose big as they cling to old tired philosophies and ignorant view if social morays. 4 more years if you please Mr. President!


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