Just a short while ago news broke that Barack Obama just made another heroic first as president: He became the first seated Commander-in-Chief of the country to openly support gay marriage. The announcement came via an interview President Obama did with ABC’s Robin Roberts in which he made a clear declaration that he believes homosexual Americans should have the same right to marry as heterosexuals. He stated:
“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 president’s “I do” to gay marriage rattled through the Internet with several celebrities—both gay and straight—sending out resounding support and thanks to the president for taking such a bold stance. But regardless of President Obama’s seemingly altruistic goal of wanting to support same-sex couples and families, making the announcement was certainly a gamble, and a decision that definitely wasn’t made without thoroughly assessing the risk-benefit ratio.
The thing is gay marriage is nearly as polar an issue as capital punishment or abortion. You’re either starkly for it or against it and the ramifications can be great. The homosexual population has grown as a powerful entity in society and it makes sense that the president would want to openly align his candidacy with the belief gay couples should be allowed to marry, because although his position does nothing to affect state legislature regarding marriage laws, it does potentially boost his vote with the gay population. On the other hand, it could wreck his stance with those who do not have such liberal views on gay marriage. Already there have been comments on news and blog boards from past supporters of Obama saying he has now lost their vote. They hardly feel his declaration is bold, but rather a cowardly buckling to pressure from the homosexual community.
As far as conservatives go, there likely wasn’t much Obama could do to change their minds to vote for him anyway, and though some believe this issue will now be one of the main points of contention in the coming race, it wouldn’t be wise for Republicans to openly bash the president’s support of gay marriage knowing how many votes ride on that. Besides, the president believes this is no longer a bi-partisan issue but rather a generational one. He told Robin:
“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.”
President Obama has clearly laid his perspective out on the line and it will be a few months before we see the full ramifications of that choice. Beyond the gay-straight divide he’s crossed, many are curious as to how this open acceptance of same-sex couples will affect the president’s relationship with the black and Latino communities which across the board are thought to not be as on-board with gay marriage. Many have felt the president has the black vote in his back pocket but this could potentially change the game.
Do you think Obama just sealed his fate as the president for the next four years by supporting gay marriage or will he lose support for standing for this controversial right?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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