After years of “evolution,” President Obama today switched his past opposition to same-sex marriage and says that he now supports the right. Obama stated that he only came to this realization after speaking with his family and gay and lesbian associates, but he now personally supports same-sex marriage. He continues to maintain however that the question of same-sex marriage must remain a state issue, which would indicate that he does not view this as a right protected under the Bill of Rights. Obama however has now distinguished himself as the only major candidate in the general election who will not oppose same-sex marriage as a personal matter.
In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, Obama 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.”
That statement falls short of stating that this is a constitutional right as opposed to personal view. In past cases, the Obama Administration has opposed arguments that sexual orientation should be given the same protection as race — even after changing its position on “don’t ask don’t tell” and the “Defense Of Marriage Act.” However, this remains an important, if belated, recognition of the unfairness and inequity facing gay and lesbian couples.
The support of state authority on the question will help Obama control the political backlash in states like Virginia and North Carolina. However, it creates an interesting contrast to the position of the Administration in court in cases ranging from medical marijuana to health care to immigration where it has rejected claims of state authority.
At the moment, it remains dangerously undefined for the Administration: is same-sex marriage a constitutional right or a personal choice in the President’s view? If it is a constitutional right, can gays and lesbians claim heightened scrutiny of review associated with race or at least gender? That does not appear to be the thrust of Obama’s comments. The fact that the Administration continues to crackdown on state medical marijuana laws as a federal question, same-sex marriage would appear to rank below the question of the use of marijuana for terminally ill patients as a legal question.
It is hard to know how to react to the news. Civil libertarians are obviously less than enthused with the long opposition of the President or the view that the President had finally reached a point where even the normally favorable White House press corp was openly mocking his position. Even Democratic stalwarts this week were denouncing Obama and telling him to “man up” and take a stand on principle. It should not take a conversation with your daughters to recognize a fundamental right after years as a state legislator, U.S. Senator, and U.S. President. Yet, he has at least finally dropped his opposition and that puts him in a better position than Romney on the question.
The President should now offer a better idea of the constitutional footing of this right. His description of his thought process notably does not reference notions of equal protection as much as basic fairness:
“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.”
The Golden Rule basis for this right leaves if on the same level as other personal choices and social disagreements — as opposed to a matter of equal protection or privacy. Yet, in a process of evolution, we are now at least in the same rough genus of rights. He also can rightfully claim to be the first president to support same-sex marriage.
205 thoughts on “Evolutionary Progress: Obama Embraces Same-Sex Marriage After “Evolving” Away From His Prior Opposition”
Otteray Scribe: Don’t be lame..if you had any sense at all you’d read my above comments before replying …a relative and friends who are “gay”…nothing on earth or beyond will cause me to accept such a “perverted” lifestyle…( besides, I can honestly say that not a soul he knew ( the gay friend) cried for days after he died…only me…and had I known beforehand, I would have been there for him…I had ask him to leave the lifestyle the last time we spoke…he expected that from me..his soul was more important then his body…
@MrDog: My position has not evolved a whit; and will not evolve. I do not believe it is any of my business what consenting adults do, and I believe it is wrong to deny people the emotional and legal bonds of marriage based on the gender of the person they love. As far as the legal ramifications are concerned, to me it is just another contract.
Although I absolutely believe, based on strong medical evidence, that homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are inborn, it would make no difference to me if sexual orientation WAS a choice; if two consenting adults wish to marry, issue them a license to marry. My position is that there should be no gender-based restrictions whatsoever.
Cool list, but I don’t think it is going to work for AD. They. Are. Everywhere.
That Digiorno pizza was probably packed and handled by a gay somewhere along the line. And I hear they work at all the major supermarkets. And buy gas at all kinds of places, even discount stations. OOOHHHH. AD is gonna get gay cooties and have to throw up, so let’s stand back to avoid the backsplatter.
@AD: The fact that you continue to respond speaks louder than your lyin’ words, dufus.
Tony C: Are you also so ignorant that you think for one second your so called “insults” mean squat to me?
Fellow commentors: Would any of you make the leap that if a marriage license or a dog tag license is a matter of state law, that thence the Bill of Rights of our Constitution (the first ten amendments folks) would not be applicable to a denial of a marriage right or a right to speak out on a marriage right under the First Amendment? The article here posits that and implies that our President, because he says that a marriage license is a matter of state law, would deny a married person protection under the Bill of Rights
The President has come out and said that his position on gender marriage has evolved. Can anyone here say that their position has not evolved a tiny bit on such a matter?
In the past week or so there has been a specious attack on the President on this and other issues by the blog captain. If we are for Romney then lets be up front. This dog is not for Romney.
@AD: What is childish and “yesterday” is your bigotry and revulsion at the idea of homosexuality, it is also an indicator of your own lack of intelligence. I do not seek to control you, I seek to insult you and see you reviled as you insult and revile others.
Tony C: Right back at ya..seeing as you also evolved from a monkey…
Tony C: Your low IQ speaks for itself. Name calling is so childish and yesterday..Please refrain from attempting to “CONTROL” me on this post.
A Bigot’s to-do list…
1. Go to Safeway
2. Switch to Phil-Con-76
3. Get Digiorno pizza for Klavern meeting
4. Check auto insurance for liability, reinforce left front bumper
5. Think about home schooling
6. Switch to tea
7. Get appraisal on concrete bunker
@AD: I would be happy to receive exactly what I deserve by my words here; if you get the same. I will come out far ahead in that bargain, bigot.
TONY C: Yet you yourself speak of CONTROLLING OTHER PEOPLE by your words posted here..you have no more rights then I do …uneducated, and morally corrupt..may you receive exactly what you deserve by your own words here. We can at least “hate” each other with MATURITY..( laughing out loud)
The smartest young man I know, who is an aspiring meteorologist, brilliant writer, and gay, had this to say the other day:
Amazing that the young man who wrote this just recently had his 20th birthday.
@AD: f I am in the presence or company of one or many (gay), I get sick to my stomach and have no control over that.
And if I feel that way about you, is it okay with you that I control your behavior, invade your privacy, prevent you from speaking and relegate you to second class citizenship, legislatively?
You see, when I am in the presence of bigots that want to control other people, it makes me want to vomit on them. I can’t help that.
I’m glad you cleared up that acronym. For a minute I thought you meant UCC as in Uniform Commercial Code. Everyone knows that the only thing contract lawyers are worse at than paintball is kissing . . . which is not to be confused with screwing you over. Totally different issue.
Yes ma’am, but that was in Fresno. Unfortunately, Mrs. Junctionshamus would be a tad upset if I continued my survey of kissability… 🙂
You may interested in the fact that the UCC (United Church of Christ/Congregational and E&R) not only ordained the first openly homosexual minister but also views marriage as a civil union and not a sacrament, and allows all sorts of musical instruments to be played in the sanctuary … AND … all members, male & female, are superb kissers! We take great pride in that last fact.
@Blouise – What’s a guy to respond to that?
Oh yeah… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W756UF3crfg
“special interest groups ” (Barney Collier) Civil Rights is a “special interest”?
Yes ma’am, but that was in Fresno. Unfortunately, Mrs. Junctionshamus would be a tad upset if I continued my survey of kissability… 🙁
junctionshamus, I bet you are thinking of the Church of Christ. My son is a Coloradan.
Thanks, Ma (SwM)! Best advice I’ve gotten from a mother in years!! You could possibly see my confusion (or not), as my experience w/ the C of C was one of a conservative nature, whereas the UUC would be more inclined to make these statements.
I was always a bit flummoxed that all sacred music in the C of C was a cappella. I was told this was because there was no reference to musical accompaniment in the Bible. What I did find very interesting was that musical parts (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone/bass) were passed down from father to son/mother to daughter, unless it was obvious the “child” was unable to sing in that range. That, and, not to stereotype now, but the girls were good kissers… 😉
And in local news, our (CO) governor wants the legislature off their lazy asses and into special session, to take care of our civil unions bill. As a ‘pub, yesterday was a day of sadness and disappointment for me.
The author of this article makes a rather odd statement coming from a constitutional law professor. “He continues to maintain however that the question of same-sex marriage must remain a state issue, which would indicate that he does not view this as a right protected under the Bill of Rights.”
This is quite a leap. Drivers licenses, law licenses, dogtag licenses, are all questions which are state issues. If I state that premise it does not remotely imply that I hold a position that the right of a dog to exist is not protected under the Bill of Rights. The right of someone in a same sex relationship might be to remain free from a state law banning their speech in public. The First Amendment is the first component of the Bill of Rights. The right to speech would be protected against state action or federal action if it concerned a matter of public concern. The Fourteenth Amendment makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states.
Why would the author mischaracterize the position of the President of the United States on such a basic matter of constitutional law?
Is someone gunning for an appointment to a federal job under Romney here? Does the DC Court of Appeals have some vacancies coming up?
I view same sex marriage issues to be state issues –that is matters for the states to determine in their legislatures–not Congress to intrude upon. But that does not mean that a state cannot be sued under the Bill of Rights for intruding on a constitutionally protected matter concerning same sex marriages or relationships. This is Con Law 101.
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