Obama Becomes First Sitting President In US History To Endorse Marriage Equality
By Nathan James
Following hard on the heels of his Vice-President’s stunning endorsement of same-sex marriage, and in the shadow of the passage of North Carolina’s anti-gay Amendment One, President Barack Obama, speaking to ABC-TV’s Robin Roberts, became the first President ever to publicly support marriage equality while in office.
During a taping of Good Morning America, which will air tomorrow, the President discussed how, after a long process of “evolution” on the issue, he decided to come out in support of gay marriage. Obama declared, “I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” After conversations with White House and campaign staff, as well as his own wife and family, Obama stated, “ I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm [the right of same-sex couples to marry].
While the White House stressed that the President’s remarks were his own views, and that he still supported the “concept” of states’ right to decide the issue individually, the landmark announcement “consolidates” the Administration’s position on marriage equality.
President Obama had previously opposed marriage equality, saying during his 2008 “Open Letter To The LGBT Community” that he supported “civil unions” for gay and lesbian couples, but fekt that marriage was between one man and one woman. As Obama addressed other LGBT issues–notably signing a repeal of the federal ban on gays in th
e military, known as “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” (DADT), and ensuring that hospitals receiving federal funding respect visitation rights of those in domestic partnerships or civil unions, and declaring the unconstitutionality of the Defense Of Marriage Act–he steadfastly maintained a stance of “evolution” on same-sex marriage. Seen as a possible Republican “wedge issue”, the White House quickly “clarified” Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on Sunday’s edition of Meet The Press, in which he unequivocally supported the right of gays to marry.
Yesterday, North Carolina, site of this year’s Democratic National Convention, and a “battleground state” which Obama carried in 2008, passed a sweeping amendment to its state constitution, making marriage between “one man and one woman the only legal, valid relationship” between two consenting adults in the state.
Amid calls from LGBT-rights groups for a statement on marriage from Obama, the White House cancelled a scheduled press briefing in New York, so the Good Morning America segment could be taped.
The gay Log Cabin Republicans, contrasting the effusive praise for President Obama from other LGBT groups, called Obama’s revelations “cold comfort for LGBTs”, saying the timing of his endorsement following the GOP-sponsored passage of Amendment One, “offensive and callous”.
However, other LGBT leaders, such as Brian Silva of Marriage Equality USA, said ” [T]his moment will be remembered for a long time as a true celebration for all that organizations like Marriage Equality have worked for over twenty years.” Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate and nominee-apparent Mitt Romney reiterated his own position on gay marriage. ”My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments on that at this point, or ever.”