Congratulations are in order for Mitt Romney, established Republican flip-flopper and svelte-haired presumptive presidential nominee. President Obama’s May 9 announcement revealing his personal support of gay marriage has offered Romney an opportunity to remind the country that there is one issue he has never waffled on: equal rights for homosexual citizens. From Denver radio station KDVR-TV Romney surely delighted in saying, “My position is the same on gay marriage as it’s always been well, from the beginning, and that is that marriage is a relation between a man and a woman. That’s the posture that I had as a governor and I have that today.”
Firm and solid, like a marble statue. A homophobic marble statue, but resilient and reliably bigoted nonetheless.
Obama’s go-to answer to the gay marriage question has been that his views are “evolving”. A seemingly true statement about a man’s gradual and educated decision to support equal rights for all citizens- unless you count 1996, the year he stated his unequivocal support for gay marriage. In an interview with Outlines newspaper, he said “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
Hence the confusion and disappointment of the LGBT community and its supporters when Obama’s first presidential campaign made no mention of legalizing same sex marriages. Not to mention the widespread frustration at his refusal to make a decisive comment on the subject over the last four years.
Obama’s remarks in an ABC interview today credited the influence of close friends in committed gay relationships that helped him move toward a belief that “same-sex couples should be able to get married”. He maintains that states should be allowed to determine marriage laws on their own, however, and is thus not expected to speak against North Carolina’s recent ban of gay marriage.
Obama’s announcement marks the first time a sitting president has openly supported extending the right of marriage to gay couples. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton beat him to it, but it seems Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks that he is “absolutely comfortable” with gay Americans marrying was the kick in the ass Obama needed to weigh in on the issue. Biden noted that watching Will & Grace helped him reach his decision. Perhaps we should arrange weekly Congressional viewings of Glee to assuage Republican fears of sinful homosexuality.
If Obama loses a second term, this announcement could be too little, too late. The completion of his evolution will do nothing on its own to protect the rights of same-sex couples in the United States. His large and loyal LGBT community supporters deserve to see their president work towards equality.
Barack, you’re late to the party. Try to make up for it.
By Anna Ryan
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