Obama publicly declares support for same-sex marriage


This was probably my favorite part of the interview:

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “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.”

I think the first thing you learn once you become an adult is that adults don’t always get it right. What a perfect example.

I’m still cranky that he framed it as a “leave it up to the states issue”… I mean, if you truly believed this about equal rights, why should it be left up to popular vote? That didn’t exactly go well in North Carolina last night. But his support is still progress.

What do you think about this announcement?


  1. says

    Obviously he doesn’t really care about the issue, or he’d have been willing to risk a bit of political capital to make a clear stand one way or another. So it seems to me that he’s just waffling around (quite deliberately) so as to appear appealing to those who hope he’ll make a move if he gets re-elected and no longer has to worry about another white house run. I think it just shows what a cynical politician he is. What else did people expect?

  2. Gregory in Seattle says

    And says that it is all a matter of states rights. Like, you know, transvaginal ultrasounds and Jim Crow.

  3. says

    While I agree that states voting to limit LGBT rights is infuriating, from a Constitutional perspective, it’s correct. Police powers (basically all general governmental functions, including the administration of marriage &c.) are traditionally and constitutionally vested in the states under the Tenth Amendment. It would have been a huge political risk, not to mention constitutionally questionable, for Obama to back any sort of national marriage law. Ensuring marriage equality at a federal level would require either a reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment (like what could come out of Perry v. Brown–basically a statement that marriage equality is part of Equal Protection) or a new constitutional amendment. Given that twenty-some states have constitutional bans on gay marriage, getting 2/3 to sign on to an amendment seems unlikely.

    There is one way that the feds can interfere with states being bigoted, and that’s the Full Faith and Credit clause. The part of DOMA that says that states don’t have to recognize other states’ gay marriages is flagrantly in violation of Full Faith & Credit, so if DOMA goes, my understanding is that all states would be required to recognize MA/IA/NY/DC/&c.’s gay marriages. That would amount to national marriage equality, but you’d have to get married in a state that allows it.

  4. Gus Snarp says

    Obviously he’s still trying to duck the issue. He wants to appease the Democratic base without pissing off anyone else. Still, he’s been better for gay rights than any Republican, and will be a damn sight better than Romney. We won’t know where he really plans to go on this until after the election, but there’s no real reason to expect him to fully support marriage equality even after he’s reelected.

  5. says

    If you want to appeal to traditional legal authority, the Full Faith & Credit Clause allows states not to recognize out of state marriages that violate local public policy as long as the states themselves don’t allow it. Thus, S.C. in 1900 didn’t have to recognize an out of state interracial marriage.

    Obama is arguing in the federal courts now that sexual orientation should be treated like gender — laws should be put to a higher test because of the history of discrimination etc. So, it is not really out there to rest on equal protection here.

    But, like those in the GLBT community who were wary about the Prop 8 case for going too fast, he doesn’t want to go to the limit before other stuff is fixed.

  6. R. Johnston says

    Obama’s strategy, as always, is to set himself up to hippie punch. The nation has moved far enough in favor of gay marriage that the ability to hippie punch requires tepid nominal support fro gay marriage.

    The point of today’s announcement was to set up a hippie punch of those who claim, correctly, that marriage equality is a fundamental right not subject to state control or popular vote.

  7. says

    This is a tad unfair. This is politically risky after NC, not your garden variety Red State, voted in such a bad law. Romney can try to sound reasonable now — see see, he wants ‘gay marriage.’ Not just civil unions etc.

    I expect that politicians aren’t going to be pure on anything. Some want them to, but like kids realize with their parents, most learn they aren’t demigods.

  8. says

    It’s a good thing, but it’s also transparent politics.

    Obama won in 2008 by galvanizing the youth vote, which is difficult to do. In four years he’s done a lot of good, and a lot of bad, as our president. Whatever you may think of him now, it’s hard to argue that he’s the clear-cut “good guy” that many of us saw him as in 2008.

    By coming out and saying he supports this issue, he’s attempting to reconnect with the youth the way he did before. Because, as he said: the youth are overwhelmingly in support of gay marriage.

  9. R Johnston says

    When a politician castigates liberals for having the temerity to be right, that’s hippie punching.

  10. isitisabel says

    Not to mention that Biden came out in favor of gay marriage a few days ago. Obama’s silence on the issue would have highlighted the disparity, and I think it could have weakened his position even more in the eyes of many liberals.

    I fully believe that Obama is personally in favor of gay marriage. I also know that he is a politician first and foremost, and the timing of his announcement is impossible to ignore. It will be interesting to see how this affects the rhetoric in the upcoming elections.

  11. Joshua says

    “Finally”? He was in favor of it in 1996, before he was tepid, then sort of against it, then … you get the picture. Sort of like telecom immunity, which he promised to filibuster before voting for it.

    I’m not willing to give this President much credit for taking a stand on much of anything, especially when it comes to civil rights or civil liberties.

    (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76109.html has the quote from 1996, and several more since then).

  12. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Bingo. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard this. Leavnig it up to the states – what could possibly go wrong? let’s ask some Incubators Formerly Known as Women in Utah/Virginia/Kansas/Ohio/Idaho/Alabama/Mississippi/etc.

  13. coyotenose says

    I’ve never grasped Full Faith and Credit on this issue, as it seemed to me that it could be read whichever way a person wanted to read it. But doesn’t the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment defeat any attempt to limit marriage rights so long as marriage is a civil institution with legal ramifications? To get around that clause, a law has to pass a “rational basis” test at the very least. Often, a law has to pass a higher degree of scrutiny, like when it comes to race or other traits that are related to a history of oppression.

  14. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    And when they frame the fact that liberals are right as said liberals being extremists.

    It’s the faux-logical outcome of the “Both Sides Are Just As Bad” fallacy.

  15. MLB says

    Dude should have sacked up and taken a stand a long time ago.

    My main problem with Obama (and I am a supporter) is that he hedges his political bets too much. He did it with healthcare and we ended up with something that will likely get tossed out, he did it again here, until now. Makes him seem too interested in the votes and not enough interested in the Civil Rights of citizens.

  16. R Johnston says

    The problem with applying the Full Faith and Credit clause to marriage is that marriage is a contract between one person, another person, and the state. The Full Faith and Credit clause acts to require states to enforce contracts made in other states, but it can’t plausibly act to substitute the new state as a party to the marriage contract when a couple changes residence. You only get substitution of the new state as a party to the marriage contract by declaring marriage and marriage equality to be fundamental rights, i.e. declaring that the state is required to be party to the marriage contract whenever a couple decides to marry.

  17. Dalillama says

    Horseshit. Right now, there are over 1000 privileges and rights that come with marriage via the Federal Government. Those will not occur without Federal recognition of same-sex marriage, which would also de facto call upon the states to recognize them as well.

  18. MCJB says

    I think that he’s going to leave it up to the states until he can secure his reelection

  19. says

    Not exactly. Loving declared that marriage was a fundamental right. Even Scalia said following Lawrence that gay marriage would be protected by the Constitution.

  20. SAWells says

    I love the sound of people who’ve won fewer elections than Obama telling Obama what he should have done politically. As with DADT repeal, the flip from “he’ll never do it” to “he gets no credit from me” is instantaneous. No wonder you guys elect so many Republicans.

  21. Gregory in Seattle says

    Obama didn’t repeal DADT. He fought very hard against judicial repeal, and refused to use his authority as Commander-in-Chief to execute a stop-loss order to effectively end DADT discharges, a power he otherwise used extensively. He never publicly supported Congressional repeal, and it has been reported by (admittedly, anonymous) Congressional staffers that he quietly lobbied against repeal with “Please, not now.” When he was handed the fait accompli, he had very little choice but to sign it into law: a veto would have proven his opposition to LGBT rights. He did, however, drag his feet for as long as possible before signing off on the repeal. As with every advance of LGBT rights during his term, he had to be shamed into doing the right thing.

    Regarding your crack about Republicans, I’m curious: would you tell an African American to silently support someone who claims not to be racist but has to be bullied into acting against racism, just because the other guy is more openly racist? Where do you get off telling gay people to support someone who claims not to be anti-gay but has to be bullied into acting against anti-gay bigotry?

  22. says

    Can someone here please elaborate what, SPECIFICALLY, Obama–as President–can now do to make same-sex Marriage the law of the land?

    From where I’m standing–this was mostly symbolic and political–which is what presidential pronouncements USUALLY are. It happens to have a meaning that I like–but dude is not a dictator–so I’m not clear as to how this changes anything legally.. (culturally–that’s a different story..)

    I’m sincerely curious here–so please note what he can do here…

  23. smrnda says

    State’s rights are indeed part of out constitutional framework, but I think it’s a bullshit part and a big flaw. It gives depopulated, backwards state inordinate political power and allows things to go on at a local level that, left at the national level, would never fly.

    On the issue of homosexuality, people who are still shocked by it are becoming dinosaurs. I think it’s just that, deep down inside, most people realize that there’s no logical reason to oppose it and the only thing keeping it persecuted was the power of tradition and conformity, which aren’t exactly virtues held by young people in high esteem.

    It’s also tough to hate homosexuals once people realize how normal they are, and how their relationships are really not particularly different from the ones heterosexuals have.

  24. says

    That’s easy. Whether or not to allow slavery was left up to the individual states, for the better part of a century. Which resulted in great good will and peaceful coexistence between slave states and free states. Not.

  25. says

    I think Abraham Lincoln is probably very much on Obama’s mind right now. The lesson from Lincoln is that you don’t just come out with guns blazing on an issue like this; you wait for the politically auspicious moment to act. Obama has chosen his moment for this limited (but yes, deeply significant) step. And now, like his order to move on bin Laden, it plays out.

  26. see_the_galaxy says

    Yeah, no difference at all don’t you know. Of course Romney is affirming opposition, totally the opposite. So we get something from Obama, and piss from Romney, but keep repeating Koch brothers talking points that there’s no difference. Hey I KNOW! Let’s have NADER run again! Let’s totally lose on principle! Boy howdy I just love the sound of a war in Iran and more of my rights being flushed down the drain and more fascists on the Supreme Court!

  27. R Johnston says

    Gotta agree with this. I don’t get people who want to give Obama credit for the DADT repeal. It’s like they were asleep for the first two years of his presidency and have no clue about what actually happened. Obama very clearly did as little as he could possibly get away with throughout the process.

    Frankly, this is an omnipresent pattern of behavior with Obama. The only good act that I know of that President Obama didn’t half-ass or have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing was signing off on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first legislation that ever crossed his desk; it was all downhill from there.

  28. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    What kind of shallow asshole votes based on something as trivial and paltry as RESULTS?

  29. M Groesbeck says

    …because I should be totally enthusiastic about someone who insists that he feels bad about my being shit on, but won’t do anything because I’m being shit on by totally legitimate means. After all, being disappointed in a candidate who will win my state even without my vote is totally like supporting his somewhat-more-right-wing opponent.

    (Isn’t this another recap of Bush v. Gore? Sure, the Supreme Court may have tossed the whole electoral process by the wayside to ordain Bush the Lesser — but the real villains are the people to the left who didn’t obey their center-right Democratic overlords!)

  30. M Groesbeck says

    I’ll believe it when I see it. When Obama stops quietly pushing against pro-LGBT legislation and actually starts taking a stand before it’s on his desk rather than just taking credit for what Congress does against his advice.

  31. says

    Within two hours of Obama’s statement hitting the headlines, Obama Campaign pollsters called our house here to ask our reaction.

    Read from that what you will.

  32. Manly Bowler says

    It doesn’t so much “read” as it screams: “Do you like me better now?” ;-)

  33. Paul Durrant says

    Why don’t same-sex marriages fall under the same laws as first-cousin marriages?

    Some of your states don’t permit first cousins to marry. But they must recognise married first cousins who got married in states where it is legal.

    Surely, except for DOMA, exactly the same must apply to same-sex marriages?

  34. lactose fermenter says

    I wonder if his willingness to finally take a stand for gay marriage had anything to do with the latest gallup poll results on this topic…

    From yahoo :

    “…The public opposed gay marriage by a lopsided margin of 68 percent to 27 percent when Gallup first asked the question in 1996. In 2012, for just the second year, a narrow majority of 50 percent favored making it legal, with 48 percent against. (The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.) Independent voters were strongly in favor, 57 percent to 40 percent, which on the surface would seem to help the embattled incumbent….”

  35. Epinephrine says

    No matter how disappointing Obama has been on many issues, this isn’t a bad thing. And it’s not like there’s a better candidate – the democrats have to run Obama again, not to do so would be foolish. And Obama may be very centrist, but he’s more liberal than ANY of the GOP. I’m not from the USA, but as a Canadian I watch with alternating horror and hope. We are stuck with our version of Bush Jr., I’m just hoping that if the USA can move leftward a bit maybe we will follow suit and replace the current PM when the time comes.

    It may be a disappointingly small step, but it’s in the right direction, which is WAY better than it would have been if the other team were in the White House.

  36. says

    Politics is about getting elected. There are no states that being pro-gay marriage would swing from red to blue, but there are states that would swing from blue to red, (Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana) or be pushed to be further red. The only states where support for gay marriage would help him are already going to fall his way.

    People talk how it is the politicians fault. But they are just playing by the rules of the system. It’s not Obama’s job to change this country. It is our job. We have to make it so that when politicians look at the math, supporting gay marriage would be in their interest. That’s the only way it has ever worked.

  37. SAWells says

    I swear, from some of the outraged reactions around here you’d think Obama had come out for a perpetual ban on gay marriage.

    Two things you should be getting from this: 1, this is a nice big stick with which to beat every other Democratic politician who hasn’t come out in favour of marriage equality, so use that. 2, he’s publicly role-playing the process of changing your mind when faced with evidence and argument; he’s showing people who’re currently against gay marriage how to go about changing your mind on the issue. For people who’re already on the right side of the issue, sure, that doesn’t look like much, but it’s a necessary part of the process of actually achieving political change. When was the last time you saw a president saying “I used to believe X but due to facts Y and arguments Z I no longer believe X”? It’s an educational process.

  38. says

    I think Abraham Lincoln is probably very much on Obama’s mind right now. The lesson from Lincoln is that you don’t just come out with guns blazing on an issue like this; you wait for the politically auspicious moment to act. Obama has chosen his moment for this limited (but yes, deeply significant) step. And now, like his order to move on bin Laden, it plays out.

    This is total bullshit, for multiple reasons, the first and foremost being that Lincoln had to act to prevent an already active and major insurrection from spreading further, the second being that Lincoln wasn’t really a friendly dude to black people as such, and didn’t actually care about them so much as on keeping white people from being too bad (and being a racist asshole was fine with him, because he was one).

    I swear, from some of the outraged reactions around here you’d think Obama had come out for a perpetual ban on gay marriage.

    He has, in fact, supported this. That’s what ‘states rights’ means. The states always have had to be dragged into equality measures kicking and screaming; sometimes by constitutional amendment. To say they have the right to determine policy is to say that they can ban gay marriage forever and he will not lift a finger to prevent them.

    2, he’s publicly role-playing the process of changing your mind when faced with evidence and argument

    Assuming this is true, which I don’t believe for one measly second, my roleplay doesn’t fuck around with people’s lives, why should his?

    When was the last time you saw a president saying “I used to believe X but due to facts Y and arguments Z I no longer believe X”?

    And yet, you believe this necessary for equality. Not so much discrimination, but for equality this must be played.

  39. says

    You are inferring things from my remark that were not implied; indeed, from the gleeful way you object to it, one wonders whether you simply read into it what you wanted to find there. I’ll add one note that lies outside anything I originally remarked on one way or another: it doesn’t matter whether Lincoln was a racist asshole.

  40. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Are you really going to assert that there’s no difference between being kicked in the shin and having a running chainsaw shoved up your ass?

  41. ischemgeek says

    @anon athiest Dear Muslima ring a bell?

    That worse things are happening in one area does not negate bad things happening in another.

    May as well say, “Sorry about you EF 4 there, Kanopolis Lake, but people in the Phillipines are dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake that killed over a hundred people! Priorities?”

  42. Kelly says

    Leaving the issue up to the states is problematic. Saying that a person is okay with equal status yet doing absolutely nothing to make it happen rings very hollow.

    I’m gay and I support the option for gay people to marry, although it would be better if states didn’t recognize any marriages at all. It’s preferential treatment to monogamous couples. That’s a whole other discussion, but because married people will always be recognized by the states, having the option for gay couple to marry is the right thing to do.

    I’m really pissed off about how the entire focus of the gay rights movement is nearly silent on the issue of workplace and housing protection. I live in West Virginia. I can be fired from my job and denied housing because bigots have a free pass to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Everyone needs a place to live and those who can work need to have access to employment. These are very basic and essential human rights. Giving protection only to gay and bisexual people doesn’t go far enough, though. Federal laws absolutely must protect transgender people. DADT never ended for transgender human beings–they can still be kicked out of the military.

  43. says

    Why not just rejoice in the fact that the President of the United States publically declares that gays and lesbians should be able to marry?

    Amazing how some people already in favor of Obama’s statement will now chastise him for actually making his point clear.

    Oh, it’s just because he is trying to score points!

    Oh, it’s just that he is hedging his bets!

    Oh, he should have sacked up a long time ago!

    Oh, he is just making a symbolic statement!

    Oh, he is just vying for the popular vote!

    Bad, bad Barack! For actually doing what we want him to do!

    Perhaps the greatest hindrance to the success of the liberals in the US is the liberals themselves?

  44. Barb says

    “In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle himself refers to homosexuality as a form of “brutality” (1138b30) — a vice so beneath human nature that those who engage in it are like beasts. A list of some of the other deeds Aristotle considers brutish, or “beyond the limits of vice,” indicates the horror that should be evoked by such an act: “for instance, the female who is said to rip open pregnant women and devour the infants… the case of the man who offered his mother as a sacrifice to the gods and ate of her… [cases of] chewing coal or earth.” Aristotle defines homosexuality as a form of brutishness that is “the result of disease or of habit.” Indeed, Aristotle argues that many cases of homosexuality are the result of childhood sexual abuse. Whatever its origin, the Philosopher cautions that mere lack of self-control does not cause homosexuality, but that the condition is due to sickness or a “morbid” psychological condition. In this sense, it seems Aristotle considers homosexuality to be a sort of addiction.” http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/tay/tay_14unhappyunion.html

  45. says

    Aristotle himself refers to homosexuality as a form of “brutality”

    so? Aristotle also thought men have more teeth than women, and never bothered to check whether this was true or not. not an empiricist, that one.

  46. sunsangnim says

    I can just imagine a Republican attack ad that selectively quotes, “I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy.”

  47. Amyc says

    Yes thank you. States’ rights all to often is used to limit individuals’ rights. It doesn’t make any sense. Frankly, I value an individual person’s rights over a state’s rights. I won’t go as far as my boyfriend does (he kind of thinks states should be eliminated and we should just have the federal government), but I do recognized that just about any time the federal government starts to recognize that a minority’s rights are infringed, the bigots all start hiding behind “state’s rights.”

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