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Evolved

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2012

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.

After four years of hedging on the question, President Barack Obama became the first sitting President in U.S. history to publicly support the rights of gay couples to marry. ABC News, which will air excerpts of the interview tonight on Nightline, also reports:

The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.

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, sexual orientation that they 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.”

You can see video excerpts of that interview here.

Until today, Obama’s official position had been that he wants to repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, his Justice Department is declining to defend DOMA in federal courts, his Homeland Security office is granting green cards to foreign partners of married same-sex couples, and his administration had provided an array of domestic partner benefits to large numbers of federal employees. In addition, his campaign has released statements against North Carolina’s Amendment 1 and a proposed anti-marriage amendment in Minnesota. But the last time anyone was able to ask Obama about his personal stance on same-sex marriage, he said that he supported equal rights for same-sex couples and he supported the rights of states to grant marriage equality, but that on the subject of marriage itself he was personally still “evolving” on the issue.

That evolution, for all practical purposes, was completed today.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

I sent my second contribution to a politician in 20 years today. both were to Obama.

I also sentmy first contribution to the democrats in 20 years yesterday. I’m glad I did.

Go thou and do likewise.

David Blakeslee
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

Congratulations, Jim. This is in no small part due to your efforts to rationally and thoroughly discuss the issues and actively debunk many assertions on the other side.

Blake
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

& now I’m feeling optimistic again! Hooray.

Jim, I read some sarcasm in that one big paragraph, so if that’s what you intended I’d respond by saying I think it makes a real difference to say out-loud what everyone’s thinking. It changes the terms of the debate (MLB understands as much). Obama can’t hide from us anymore. He’s really putting his neck out on the line on this issue now & he has to back this up strongly or his opponents are going to trounce him. Also he’s taking the strategy that a great many of us say should’ve been taken in NC. Unapologetically pro-gay.

He’s taking the bate & calling the republicans on their bluff. Plus, timing wise, he’s putting the screws to Romney right before he has to speak in front of one of the most conservative audiences in America. Love it!

Lindoro Almaviva
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

I know this will anger many people but i would have waited. now the republican party has a soundbite to drum up the same kind of fear and hell they did on 2008.

Nice as this is, i do not think it was a good political move. We’ll see if i am correct in that on 11/9

Jim Burroway
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

I didn’t intend sarcasm, but was just recounting the many ways in which Obama was already working towards supporting marriage equality without actually saying that he personally supported it. That last point was changed today.

I don’t think he’s calling Republicans’ bluff. He did that already with the actual actions this administration had been taking. What he’s doing instead has much more resonance with gay people and their families. Just as the idea of marriage is deeply meaningful to everyone who contemplates getting married, the fact that the President “gets” how important and normal that is, means that in his eyes, we are people just like him — and just like his daughters.

Mark F.
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

I still won’t vote for Obama or donate to his campaign, but he deserves a lot of credit for this. Bravo!

Blake
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

Well there I go again arguing with myself. Thanks for clarifying! Great points!

Priya Lynn
May 9th, 2012 | LINK

I agree with Lindoro.

anteros
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I’m so proud of President Obama, all over again!

But I’m even more proud of the millions who by coming out (it ain’t easy, just ask any one of us closetted peeps) and just living their lives honestly, have earned respect and taken personal risks while facing and addressing ignorance, fear, intolerance, and hate… big up to President Obama’s kids’ friends’ same-sex parents :-)

http://youtu.be/TgWoEZ2oNi4

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