By Stephanie Kutner
On May 10th, Obama became the first sitting president to publicly endorse gay marriage. Vice president Joe Biden was the first of the two to publicly assert his stance on gay equality- without permission- during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. This was shortly followed by Education Secretary Arney Duncan. Obama, on the heels of Duncan’s backing and Biden’s subsequent apology, followed suit.
In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC, the president said, “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.”
The following Tuesday evening, the state of North Carolina passed an amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. On Wednesday, following snowballing political pressure, Obama stated, “It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president said. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. 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. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.” This declaration, though widely overdue, comes at a potential cost for his reelection. Key swing states such as North Carolina and Virginia will be widely opposed to Obama on this issue.
Now, stepping back from the groundbreaking decision and the major effect it will have on LGBT equality, if I were a member of the LGBT community, I would take offense to the timing of this announcement. It is an election year. I would posit that, given the strong public attitudes on this matter, this announcement comes as a very strategic move on the president’s part. I am all for gay marriage, please don’t misconstrue. All that I am saying is that if the president was for gay marriage all along, he should not have waited until the last year of his presidential term to publicly favor it. If I were a part of the community at hand, I would resent being used as a reelection ploy.
We are again seeing social issues take precedence in the presidential race, this time at the hands of the Democrats. Following the oft-times uproariously epic failures of the fallen GOP candidates and their ludicrous stances on social issues (such as women’s rights), one can only hope that this issue doesn’t turn into an all-out brawl to detract from the key issues plaguing this country: the economy and the rapidly declining welfare of its citizens. It is 2012. We are not neanderthals. If this country really does rotate around the core ideals it was founded on, then liberty for all (and thus equality for all, be you gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) should be a well-established given in this society.
Sometimes I step as far away back from the news, from politics, from the hatred in the world and try to look at our country from the vantage of someone or something in space with no knowledge of this or any other civilization. Even in this meditative state, I can discern no logic in the ways in which people today conduct themselves. The emphasis primly being on those in power. Why have we allowed ourselves to be governed by people who do not see us as people? America’s leaders do not see America’s people- supposedly granted by this nation the ineffable rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness- they see us solely as checks pooling in a ballot box.