Obama’s gay marriage views elicit reservations


Never has an American president openly supported gay marriage — that is, until President Barack Obama declared his monumental stance last week.

Much of our progressive generation has celebrated Obama’s personal support of the issue, even taking his stance as the beginning of the end of discrimination against gay Americans.  This is true to some extent, as Obama’s unprecedented stance stands as an overdue milestone in the battle for equal rights.

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan

The fact of the matter is that same-sex marriage is a complex issue that touches on state v.s federal rights and the history of religion in this country.  These complexities mean that there isn’t one simple solution to the problem, and Obama’s support of gay marriage is not something to get excited about yet, as no political effort has followed suit.

It’s also worth noting that Obama had previously opposed same-sex marriage.

When Obama ran for the U.S. Senate eight years ago, he told WTTW Chicago public television, “What I believe in my faith is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God.”

These mixed signals engender questions as to how much trust citizens can put into Obama’s new claim. In fact, people should have reservations regarding this new stance, no matter how good the news is.

The faith we can put into a politician’s changes of opinion, along with the timing of the upcoming election, complicate the issue.

A recent poll by CBS News/The New York Times noted that 25 percent of voters said they likely will not support Obama in the upcoming election because of his newfound support of gay marriage.

Obama’s revolutionary words are meant to inspire the hope and change that he initially promised when he ran for president in 2008, but his direct contradiction of his former beliefs demonstrates a disconcerting lack of continuity.

And though Obama’s actions might be considered a strong step in the right direction, the timing of this fight for justice seems like an advance of his own political strategy.

Even if Obama’s intentions are genuine, all he has offered thus far is an opinion and not a plan of action.  Many supporters of same-sex marriage are treating Obama’s words as if they have brought an end to the battle for equal rights, when in fact this is just the beginning.  Until Obama pushes for new legislation, there really is nothing to celebrate. Considering Obama has noted that gay rights will not be a focus for his campaign, it seems that for now we just have a slight hope for equality, not actual change.

As U.S. citizens, the gay community is just as entitled to the same rights, including marriage, as anyone else.  And though laws regarding same-sex marriage are subject to state, rather than federal decisions, Obama still carries significant influence across the country and should take action accordingly.

Many supporters of gay rights would love to back Obama and his new stance, but talk is cheap. Until Obama makes a stronger effort to ensure equality for the gay community, his newfound support of same-sex marriage could be nothing more than a mask for his election agenda.

 

C. Molly Smith is a junior majoring in communication and is online editor of the Summer Trojan


  • KP

    I disagree that same-sex supporters are viewing this as the end of the fight. The reason it was so celebrated was because it was a huge step in the right direction. However, as we all saw from the North Carolina amendment, the fight is far from over.

    I guess I don’t really understand why people are so fired up about Obama’s support of gay marriage being a political thing. Was it a political tool? Of course it was! He’s not stupid. This is an election year. Coming out and saying officially that he supports gay marriage will no doubt sway some voters towards his side. But was it purely to sway those voters and then he will suddenly not be in favor of gay marriage if he wins a second term? I really don’t think so. While Obama was originally against gay marriage, he has been in favor of domestic partnerships and that LGBT folks are treated equally under the law. He has said numerous times that his own personal stance on gay marriage has been changing. After repealing DADT, it was clear he was headed in this direction.

    So, so what if he uses it as a campaigning tool? If it’s a step in the right direction and he sticks to it (which it sure looks like he will), who cares?

  • JohnSmith

    I think that the issue starts with homosexuality. It is not natural. It is even found in nature among animals. I have heard of that story about the penguins, but how do they know they are behaving in a homosexual way? The point is that those who are homosexual should go back to being the way they were born.

    • KP

      You do realize you contradicted yourself when you said “It is not natural. It is even found in nature among animals,” right?

  • JNathanael

    The philosophical problem that plagues this nation is the misunderstanding and confusion of the concept of marriage, which is actually two ideological entities: religious marriage and legal marriage.

    Religious marriage is the religious institution defined by religions, in the eyes of whatever god/gods are being invoked. There is nothing legal about religious marriage; it is the ceremony and pomp in the church.

    Legal marriage is the legal granting of rights and privileges to couples, to promote a monogamous lifestyle, nominally in the best interest of the nation. It is the signing of the marriage license in front of witnesses.

    “Gay” or “same-sex” marriage is the latter, the push for the rights and recognition, not the religious approval of some deity.
    Obama is doing, as Jay-Z recently noted, “what is right” by acknowledging that we should no longer deny the same rights to gay couples that we afford to straight couples.

    And so what if his religious views are against gay marriage? A president is supposed to do what is politically right for the nation, regardless of his/her personal beliefs; that’s the separation of church and state.

    Good luck finding anyone else running who is willing to make decisions for the country based on the nation’s best interests, rather than on religious grounds. That’s the ultimate issue in this upcoming election.

  • DDforSC

    Even before Obama “came out” in support of gay marriage, he supported the repeal of DOMA, the single biggest obstacle keeping legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the same federal benefits as their straight counterparts. He has also openly and publicly opposed state referenda that ban gay marriage, including Prop 8 in California in 2008. So let’s give credit where credit is due. Obama has done more for gay rights than any other President before him, and will continue to do more than any other viable alternative. We should continue to fight for more, but let’s not forget how far we’ve come.

  • USCLGBT

    Although Obama’s stance will not change any policies in favor of same sex marriage; his commentary is symbolic as the first sitting President to voice acceptance for same sex marriage. Imagine that young person in the midwest who feels he is the only gay kid that exists, he’s being bullied at school and fears his parents will disown him. This gay youth hears that the President of the United States validates his identity. This simple gesture of support by the President may save this young person from taking his own life and hopefully empower him to become the person he wants to become regardless of his sexuality. This President will not only be a historic figure based on his ethnicity/race, but also as being the first President to support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. As history looks back, Obama will be viewed very favorable, Abe Lincoln like, as supporting equality for all.

  • Thekatman

    As much as we would love to have ” all things equal”, gay marriage is not an equality that they should have. The LBGT comm should have full and complete domestic partner rights, and enjoy everything that a warm, loving couple can have, but to include marriage in the conversation is not appropriate. No other country supports gay marriage. No religion supports gay marriage. To support this “equality” mantra, what if I wanted to marry my sister, or have many wives? Why can’t I have the right to do so? Why can’t I have the right to do anything I want to do, as long as it doesn’t affext you? It’s because we are a population of societies that have rules to follow. It’s true. Not everyone is equal and it shouldn’t be that way. If I work hard for my money, and you don’t care to work for a living, but instead you want to live off of a gov entitlement program, why then should my salary be taxed at a higher ratue just because you don’t want to work? Same kind of idea. Whether you believe that gay people are born that way, which in some cases I beleive they are, or their gayness is the result of parenting, society, or what…. You have rights as a person to live freebut to step on the sanctity of marriage is not appropriate at this time.

    Obama is only using the gay rits movement as a pawn in nhis attempt to deflect the political race conversation away from his poor performance as a President and a leader of the free world. How can you trust a man you do not know anyting about?

    I think that gay marriage is in the future, but it’s a state’s right to determine that, not a Federal mantra.

    • DDforSC

      Actually, gay marriage is legal in 10 countries: South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, with several more about to join the ranks. So it seems to me there are many other countries that support gay marriage.

    • KP

      Last time I checked, the United States set of rules is the U.S. Constitution, not the Bible. No where in the Constitution does it talk about marriage being between one man and one woman. So there really isn’t a “sanctity of marriage” rule that a United States citizen is required to follow.

  • RevJDSpears

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. On this, Obama has taken that step. To expect to have the journey completed with that step is unrealistic.

    As an advocate for gay rights I have been fairly pleased with his actions to date. Could they have been done sooner? SInce most require the cooperation of Congress, probably not. Would I have wanted action sooner? Absolutely, but recognizing legislative obsitcles are often difficult to overcome, moderates any disappointment I have.