The Washington Times Online Edition
Select a category: 

Obama buckles on gay marriage

Evolving stance on issue ends up in favor

Mugshot

President Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America” at the White House on May 9, 2012. (Associated Press/The White House, Pete Souza)

Facing growing pressure from his liberal base and members of his own administration, President Obama said Wednesday that he now supports same-sex marriage “personally,” reversing his long-stated opposition.

“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,” Mr. Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview arranged specifically on the hot-button issue at the White House.

He said his position, which he also explained in religious terms, has evolved “over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors.”

He is the first president to voice support for same-sex marriage, although Mr. Obama didn’t say in the excerpt aired by ABC how or whether he would pursue it as administration policy.

The president did say he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue — a stance that, if allowed to stand by gay advocacy groups, would leave intact the 32 states that have approved constitutional amendments that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

President Obama speaks at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies dinner in Washington on Tuesday. Mr. Obama said Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage. He reversed his long-stated opposition, saying that his position on the issue evolved over several years. (Associated Press)

Enlarge Photo

President Obama speaks at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies ... more >

For a politician who spent years trying not to be pinned down on the issue, Mr. Obama made the announcement with startling swiftness, three days after Vice President Joseph R. Biden declared his support for gay marriage on a Sunday talk show. Mr. Biden’s comment that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage turned up the heat on Mr. Obama from gay-rights groups, the media and prominent Democrats to take a stand.

Many observers suspected that Mr. Obama favored gay marriage previously but did not want to say so, but now that the president is on record, the issue is sure to play a role in his re-election campaign. Polls show voters are about evenly divided on gay marriage, and there was concern among Democrats even before the president’s announcement about its potential impact among independent voters in battleground states.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said on the campaign trail Wednesday that he remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

“My position is the same on gay marriage as it’s been well, from the beginning, and that is that marriage is a relation between a man and a woman,” Mr. Romney told KCNC-TV in Denver. “That’s the posture that I had as governor and I have that today.”

Gay-rights groups and progressives hailed the president’s announcement as historic.

“President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society and that our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “In him, millions of young Americans have seen that their futures will not be limited by what makes them different.”

Said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, “The president’s support for marriage equality is great news that’s likely to energize progressive activists across the country.”

But a gay Republican group, Log Cabin Republicans, criticized Mr. Obama’s announcement as “offensive and callous” and pointed out that it came too late to influence voters in North Carolina, who approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that affirmed legal marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue,” the group’s executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, said in a statement. “This administration has manipulated [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered] families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

Religious conservatives also were critical, with Jim Campbell, litigation staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, saying the announcement “shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. Marriage — the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman — is the building block of a thriving society.”

A Gallup poll taken May 3-6 showed that 50 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legally recognized, with the same rights as traditional marriages, while 48 percent said such marriages should not. The same poll found that 65 percent of Democrats support gay marriage, 57 percent of independent voters support it, but only 22 percent of Republicans favor it.

In 2004, when running for the U.S. Senate and being pushed as a Democratic star, Mr. Obama stated that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” In October 2010, he told bloggers that his views were “evolving” but he was still opposed.

In October 2011, he told an interviewer, “I’m still working on it.”

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said Mr. Obama needed to take a stand because “this evolving position was going to be untenable over the course of the campaign.”

“The Democratic Party is not going to nominate, ever again, someone who’s not for marriage equality,” she said. “This was starting to get more out of sync with his own party.”

Story Continues →

View Entire Story
About the Author

Dave Boyer

Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
All site contents © Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC
Jobs | About | Customer Service | Terms | Privacy