Editorial: Obama's laudable stance on gay marriage
The Kansas City Star
Barack Obama’s evolving stance on gay marriage has finally brought the president and the nation to the bright side of history. For the first time, a U.S. president has unequivocally affirmed that same-sex couples should be able to legally marry.
In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News, Obama offered a well-crafted and nuanced explanation of how he transitioned from supporting legal rights short of marriage for same-sex couples to endorsing legal nuptials. The back story is more interesting than the political overtones of Obama’s announcement, because it mirrors a process familiar to many Americans.
Obama talked about working with staff members who are in committed same-sex relationships. At the family dinner table, he has listened to his young daughters speak casually about school friends who are being raised by moms or dads of the same gender. To them, it’s a non-issue.
On college campuses, young people who disagree with the president on nearly everything speak out in favor of full equality for gay and lesbian couples, Obama said. And even with his administration ending the military’s misbegotten “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy, the president came to believe that the gay men and lesbian women putting their lives on the line for their country should be able to stand at the altar with their partners.
As for the politics, Obama has in some ways lagged on this issue. Up until now, he has refused to endorse same-sex marriage, even as his administration made it possible for gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the military and his Justice Department announced it would not defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Pundits will speculate that Vice President Joe Biden inadvertently forced Obama’s hand when Biden himself declared that he fully supports same-sex marriage. But who cares? If Biden went astray, as he sometimes does, he led the president to the correct destination.
Obama was careful to emphasize in his interview that his position was a personal one. Laws governing marriage are primarily the responsibility of the individual states. Unfortunately, 30 states, including Kansas and Missouri, have laws banning gay marriage. North Carolina joined the list on Tuesday with a public vote.
But the tide is clearly turning. And for the first time, the millions of gay and lesbian Americans who want nothing less than the full privileges of citizenship can claim the president of the United States as an ally.