"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."This is an historic event in the history of the LGBT rights movement. This is the first time a sitting president has made such a statement of support for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
We all have reason to celebrate this morning, but I have to say that this news is bitter sweet, coming a day after the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina. I can't help but wonder about the timing of this announcement.
On Sunday Joe Biden made a statement on Meet the Press that he supports Marriage Equality, only to have the White House spin doctors go ape shit trying to back peddle and say that Biden didn't say what we all heard him say. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a Monday news conference that he agrees with Biden's position.
The official off-the-record explanation from unnamed White House sources is that "The Big O" evolved earlier this year, but chose not to make it public until this week, on the heals of Biden's and Duncan's statements and increased pressure from LGBT critics and high dollar donors.
The question now is whether or not this will hurt or help the president in the lead-up to the fall elections. Naturally Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, as well as Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council and other professional bigots have jumped all over this story claiming that the battle lines have been drawn and that the president's words now match his actions.
Gallagher seems to think this is a good thing for the anti-gays and is happy that the president is "no longer lying" about his support for marriage equality.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien went head-to-head with Perkins this morning, grilling him about the "redefinition of marriage" argument. O'Brien pointed out that marriage has changed over the years as society has changed, but Perkins would have none of it. Via Mediaite:
“You’re talking about redefinition,” Perkins said. “There is no rational reason to keep people of different races that were of opposite sex to marry. They met the qualifications of the definition of marriage. What we’re talking about here is a further redefinition of marriage…”
“But hasn't marriage been redefined and redefined?” O’Brien interjected.
“It’s going to intentionally create environments where you have children growing up without a mom and a dad,” Perkins argued.
“But we have environments where children grow up…” O’Brien countered. “Forgive me for interrupting, but we have environments already in heterosexual couples where they grow up without a mom or dad. You’re certainly not arguing gay marriage is fine as long as the couples don’t want to have kids because you will avoid that problem, kids growing up without a mom or a dad, or an older couple who aren’t going to have kids?”All I can say is haters gotta hate and people who don't believe in evolution never evolve.
The anti-gay folks were never going to vote for Obama anyway, or should I say the anti-gay white folks. It remains to be seen whether or not black and Latino voters, who turned out in record numbers for Obama in 2008, will shift their support to Romney over this, or just say home. It's hard to believe that anybody is a single-issue voter any more. The bigots are betting that they are enough of them left to unseat the president.
Although Obama says this was a personal decision, not a political one, there can be no doubt that he considered every angle before making his statement to ABC, which, according to those same anonymous sources, was recorded on Monday, on the condition that it not air until Wednesday. We are left to wonder whether influencing the NC vote was a consideration.
For now, let's be glad in the moment. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. President!