Amendment One

  • May 11, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Quickly after President Obama announced his support of marriage equality, the president’s knee-jerk detractors doused the moment with cynicism. The president, they said backed into the announcement or they snidely asked what’s the difference between a flip-flop and evolving.

    The response from the far right – Obama is a scourge, a menace to society, God is surely irked now – was overwrought and hardly surprising. The cynicism, however, was offensive for its insensitivity and cluelessness. Did the dunderhead crowd listen to the president’s comments or was it expressing a latent distaste for gay Americans or ignorance of the challenges lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender Americans face in a society where many are still bent on oppressing and marginalizing them.

    Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, argues that listening to Obama’s comments is, surprising as it may seem, helpful, writing, “Whatever your view of President Obama’s motives, or the legal consequences of his statement …, it is not in dispute that the words he spoke gave many Americans – including gay children and teenagers – the message that he had heard them, and that their experiences mattered so much that he’d changed his views – personal, political and legal.”

    Or as James Fallows, the longtime correspondent for the Atlantic, said:  

    I am aware that there are various slice-and-dice cynical assessments one could make of the president’s comments today. (Why did he take so long? Why did he back off the support he’d expressed in the 1990s? Might this be useful as a wedge issue in the election? It doesn’t have any immediate since it’s still up to the states. And so on.) But the fact remains that five minutes before his announcement, no one could be sure that he would take the step of staying that his personal views had changed. He did – and it was important, brave, potentially risky, and right. That should be noted It’s a significant day.

  • May 9, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Although it may make little difference in states bent on barring same-sex marriage, President Obama made a historic announcement today on marriage equality, becoming as TPM notes the “first sitting president to come out in support of legal same-sex marriage.”

    President Obama told ABC News, “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.” (Picture is linked to video excerpt of the president’s interview.)

    The president’s comments come on the heels of the North Carolina vote in favor of a constitutional ban on marriage equality, and Vice President Joe Biden’s recent statement that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage.

    The president defended his record of advancing equality, noting, “I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. And that’s why in addition to everything we’ve done in this administration, rolling back ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ so that outstanding Americans can serve our country, whether it’s no longer defending the Defense Against Marriage Act, which tried to federalize what historically has been state law, I’ve stood on the broader side of equality for the LGBT community.”

    But Obama said he “hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” by giving gay couples the many rights that legally married couples enjoy. The president added that he was “sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that invoked very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth.”