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Thursday, May 10, 2012

President Obama on Gay Marriage: Words Speak Louder Than Actions?

I guess you can say it's controversy time. Yesterday, in an exclusive interview, President Obama became the first U.S. President to explicitly endorse same-sex marriage. Check out the video from ABC news here:

This is a complicated issue, and there are reasons I, ME, am personally writing about it. Let me start by saying that as a social media user, immediately after the announcement, I noticed thousands of Facebook updates about this both for and against the President's new position. It was because of these posts that I decided to write about it. The posts made me realize that this, along with many, many other issues, will be misconstrued, misunderstood, and blasted all over the news and social media world. Ugh.

Let me start by saying this post has absolutely nothing to do with my personal beliefs or feelings about same-sex marriage. I am not writing about this because of the issue of same sex marriage itself; I am writing about this because of the political baloney that surrounds the President's announcement. Now, with that, I'm also a young adult that is aware of his surroundings, and I know it is nearly impossible to have any kind of discussion about a subject without incorporating personal feelings into that discussion. With respect to that notion, I will try to make my position on this issue quick and clear so I can get to why I'm writing about this. I've chosen to detach it from this blog because, like I said, this post is not about my personal views on the subject. If you're curious to see what they are, they can be seen here:

Going forward, I mentioned that Facebook lit up with posts about Obama's position. I want to focus on those that are now praising the president for his announcement.

Many of these posts were along the lines of, "yay President Obama! I'm behind you. This is great!" I want to ask people, "are you seriously not aware of EVERYTHING the President is saying?" In my opinion, I will just be frank: this is the biggest, speak-out-of-both-sides-of-your-mouth political maneuvering I've ever seen. His words are certainly speaking louder than his actions.

Putting timing aside (and yes, I think part of this major announcement was timing... the citizens of North Carolina voted Tuesday to amend their state Constitution to ban gay marriage), the President should not be praised for this announcement. Why? Again, this has nothing to do with opinions for or against gay marriage; this has everything to do with understanding what is being said and done... or in this case, NOT done. President Obama has publicly said now that he thinks homosexuals should get married. He also reminded everyone that he thinks this is an issue that should be left up to the states. Since North Carolina, a STATE, just put the issue to its voters and they chose to BAN (this is a big word) gay marriage, Obama is, according to his own words, okay with this. Out of one side of his mouth, Obama says he thinks homosexuals should be permitted to marry, and out of the other side he basically endorses the way North Carolina banned them from doing so.

Am I the only person who noticed this? How can anyone praise a president for his newly evolved position while he just proclaimed he promotes states deciding this issue? To me, this is a huge political punt. It seems he is trying to maximize the benefit of both sides of the coin. Since his actions don't line up with his words I ask: Is he truly for recognizing gay marriage? Or is he trying to act like he is though he is really, deep down, against it? I would think that if he was truly for it, he wouldn't have essentially endorsed North Carolina's handling of the issue. For a president that repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, (I supported the repeal), why is he not pushing for FEDERAL recognition of same-sex marriage? Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell was one of the few promises President Obama upheld. He said he would repeal it; he did. Now I know he has never said he would push for legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage on the federal level, but that's where I think the confusion and the misguided praise comes in to play. For all those that are praising the president, do you know this is how he is handling it? Do you know that he is NOT putting his money where his mouth is? Do you know he is not going to push this forward nationally like he did for DADT? So why are you praising him? If he thinks this is a states rights issue, and every state does exactly what North Carolina issue, President Obama would have made his position known while letting the country effectively ban gay marriage? How is he not speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

Above all things, I'm not sure what the president is for. I want to see his actions follow his words. Maybe he is simply saying, "I am for gay marriage," but I am for states rights - which is another understandable position. My point: to all those that are exuberant about his new position... this isn't that praiseworthy... at least not to the level many people in my age group are making it out to be.

What are your thoughts? Please share them below.


  1. I don't really give a rat's ass if people marry gay or straight. This biggest news out of his announcement is that he and the democrats can no longer label Mitt Romney as a "flip-flopper" or as one who will change his positions to get votes. Obama's change on this and SuperPACs has evened the playing field.

  2. Obama supports same sex marriage. Ok. Cool.

    What about jobs?

  3. Seems political to me,

    With that said Ron Paul has taken the same angle on many things, I dont think there is anything wrong with saying i personally believe this but I will let the states decide on their own what they would like to do.

    That does bring up the question though, is this an issue of equality in any way. If the president thinks its about equality and that same sex couples should have a right to Mary (enter into a contract) than it would be his obligation as president to prevent discrimination on the state level against those people.

    So does he he think they should be allowed to get married but its not discrimination if they are not allowed?

    Or does he think they are being discriminated against.

    If he thinks they are being discriminated against it only makes sense he would need to step in and prevent states from discriminating against their own population.

    1. I tend to agree with you. Marriage isn't mentioned in the constitution, so it should be a states issue. But the reason I agree with this article is because of this:

      "to all those that are exuberant about his new position... this isn't that praiseworthy... at least not to the level many people in my age group are making it out to be."

      He truly is trying to milk this for his benefit, and all these saps are falling for it. He isn't going to stand up for marriage. He isn't going to prevent discrimination. This line is also correct:

      "If he thinks this is a states rights issue, and every state does exactly what North Carolina issue, President Obama would have made his position known while letting the country effectively ban gay marriage? How is he not speaking out of both sides of his mouth?"

      Won't descrimination win? The bottom line is true: he is making a political point for his own benefit, while not doing anything or trying to change people or help discrimination.


  4. CNN is off and running with this. They have a headline:

    "Gay marriage support: Obama's most courageous move"

    I thought giving the OK to kill bin Laden was his most courageous move. Is every decision he makes from here on out going to be his "most courageous"?

    The CNN article goes on to say that, "a Gallup Poll released this week, which showed that 65% of Democrats and 57% of independents agree that gay marriage should be legal." If a large majority of his likely voters are for it, what is so courageous about his decision?

    Anyway, I could care less if two women get married or two men. Whatever floats your boat.

    1. CNN? You linked an opinion piece there, my friend. :)

      And an opinion piece by a special guest (and not a CNN-employed) contributor, nonetheless. Who happens to also be gay.

      I don't think anything about all of that is unreasonable. I'd be happy and praising the president if I felt like he was directly standing up for a controversial civil rights issue concerning me as well. Its his opinion to have, either way.

    2. RKen - I 100% see your point about that being an opinion piece. Part of me does side with 32slim32, in that it seems CNN doesn't do a good enough job distinguishing these. They also, for a news agency, put for a LOT of opinion pieces. I think they know many people don't realize the difference.

    3. That's actually one thing I like about CNN; they usually have opinion pieces on most subjects, and on both sides of any issue.

      The day before this they were running an opinion piece on his avoidance of the issue, and even now there are still a couple questioning the significance of it and/or if it was too radical.

    4. We need to keep a running count. In my opinion, it seems like there are wayyyyyyy too many liberal opinion pieces than conservative ones. Take a look at their "Political Ticker" section. It's not often you find something Pro-Romney in there ;-)

    5. RKen, so do you think that this is a "COURAGEOUS MOVE" too?

      Also, RKen, I am sorry I did not distinguish that it was an opinion piece. I personally believe that EVERYTHING on CNN is an opinion and not too rooted in objectivity or even fact a lot of times. So in the future, when I link to CNN I already consider it an opinion piece regardless of whether they call it that or not.

    6. I, again, wouldn't necessarily call it courageous.

      But, I have a hard time faulting someone who is passionately involved and directly effected by the issue for making that kind of a statement. Particularly in an opinion piece.

      But at the end of the day, it's a controversial civil rights issue that he could have gone without addressing and still ultimately ended up no different than he is now. His decision to still publically take a side on the issue at the very least 'ballsy' for lack of a better term.

    7. @LME: Missed that response!

      I'm sure you're probably right on that, in that CNN has more liberal-leaning opinion articles than conservative. But, they do still feature a fair amount of conservative ones (David Frum and Bill Bennett being the most common).


  6. I can't really understand the logic of how people believe that he's doing this just for the votes, or that this is a even truly politically motivated stunt.

    The only thing this can really do in the short-term is cost him votes, if anything.

    On the long-term, it is a major point in history whether people like Obama or not, as was the first presidential support of desegragtion, women's rights, banning slavery, etc. Civil rights issues just work that way.

    But as I said, short-term this will likely hurt him. The black community as a whole is overwhelmingly against gay marriage. Obama had 96% of the black vote in 2008, and all of the major black counties in N.C. (and other states that brought this issue to vote) have had 70-80%+ vote against it.

    And I mean, come on, who do you really believe the overwhelming majority of the LBGT was going to vote for anyway? Do you really think that, up until this point, the LBGT thought Mitt Romney had their best interests in mind? Of course not. He already had the LBGT vote.

    I'd like to know where exactly people believe all these new votes that Obama is going to attract from this move are going to come from?

  7. RKen - good morning!

    I don't really go either way on the side of for/against votes, but my main point in this is that I think there is an over-excited group for this. There is a part of me that believes Obama started realizing he was slowly losing the youth vote, and this could be an effort to get it back. Regardless, I believe the over-exuberance in this doesn't match the fact that he isn't going to back this up with action.

    As far as black, latino, LBGT vote, yes. He had that. He might lose some, he might not. I just believe that if this was truly as big as people are cheering it to be, he would push it for policy. He says he is standing up for civil rights, yes... but if a state moves (as NC did) to violate civil rights, he is okay with it.

    1. Good morning LME,

      I meant to clarify; my post wasn’t actually directed at you. It was just a general statement I wanted to make in regards to some of the reactions I’ve seen on this issue (about it being some cheap move for votes).

      I do think that some people are getting more excited than I would think is warranted, but at the same time I can’t really hold that against any of them. The fact of the matter is though that the only thing Obama has done is say he believes they have the right to get married. Once, and not even at a major event. He hasn’t said anything about legislation, overruling NC, the federal role, or anything to that regard.

      Like you said, many are acting as if he did say that. But in reality, he hasn’t.

      At the same time though, who am I to judge how they should react? While to me, and even many/most people, this isn’t that big of a deal… it sure is to the people this involves. For some, even life-changing. Many have been waiting a long time for a president to express open support for it, and particularly for Obama. It’s a hugely important issue for some. So I can’t fairly judge them for it, even if it seems over the top considering the lack of real actions.

    2. RKen - Thanks for writing back. I know it wasn't directed at me. No hard feelings :-)

      But that's true. It's subjective to judge how much people react. We can all have our opinions. Mine is just counter to the people that are very excited over this.

  8. Good morning RKen.

    Obama Raises $1M Within 90 Min of Endorsing Gay Marriage

    Looks like to me it is helping him.

    Also RKen, maybe the LGBT weren't going to vote at all. Now they are "fired up and ready to go". Apparently they had been with holding campaign contributions from him.

    So you think that black people will change their vote to Romney over this? I doubt it.

    1. Two statements I think most people cannot get around:

      He says he is standing up for civil rights, yes... but if a state moves (as NC did) to violate civil rights, he is okay with it.

      So you think that black people will change their vote to Romney over this? I doubt it.

    2. I appreciate the news article, and the information.

      But, unfortunately this is kind of a dead-end topic.

      How much funding did this move cost him? We will likely never know, and there almost certainly won't be studies on that. It could very easily have cost him just as much, if not more, as what he gained from it. There are a lot of powerful people/groups/organizations that support Obama, but are fundamental Christians. And a sizable ~45% of the population is still against gay marriage; and that 45% is not 100% GOP voters. How many of those were lost by this move? And how many people that donated to Obama in that 90 minutes, would’ve likely donated later if not then?

      Too many variables.

      Either way, an accurate statement can’t be made without knowing (or at least considering) both sides.

      However, I don’t think it would be accurate to say the LBGT may not have voted if not for this. Even if Obama had not endorsed it, the fact that Mitt Romney has signed a pledge to uphold the institution of marriage was enough. Not to mention his recent public affirmations against gay marriage.

      Voter turnout of the LBGT community has been high as well, particularly since the gay marriage issue has picked up steam lately.

      As far as the black vote goes, I think that it’s very likely he will lose votes. Which doesn’t say much, considering that there’s not much room to go upwards from 96%, but at the same time the black population in America has the highest employment rate and is most effected by the sluggish economic recovery. That combined with polarizing a large number of them on the gay marriage issue, may very well turn away a sizeable amount.

      Will they vote for Romney instead? Tough to say, it depends on whether Romney’s campaign capitalizes on the potential advantage and also tries to attract that sect of voters. Otherwise, it is probably more likely they just won’t vote this time around.

      Time will tell.

    3. Anonymous (8:38 AM)

      What do you mean, "Two statements I think most people cannot get around"?

    4. @Anon:

      I think you (and many) are also guilty of building up what Obama actually did. "He said he's standing up for Civil rights!" "He wants to legislate gay marriage rights!" "He wants federal intervention!" “Obama declared war on marriage!”
      (that last one was a headline on fox)

      He hasn't done any of that. His direct quote was:
      "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."

      What part of that says or implies that he now must repeal the N.C. decision? Or will pursue legislation? I don't understand how you draw that without putting words in his mouth or jumping to assumptions.

      I mean, you can't fairly criticize people that overly praise him with all these stretched assumptions of what Obama actually said/did, and then do the same thing exact thing as ammo for an argument.

  9. I predict Obama coming out for Gay Marriage will help his re-election because it will make Republicans defend bigotry which will energize the Democratic base.

    Bill Maher

  10. Things like gay marriage, abortions etc are not social issues in my opinion but personal issues, which should only involve the parties involved. All levels of government and the general public have no say or stake in the matter.

    1. You're surely entitled to your opinion but I think it's a bit naive, in that abortion is a medical procedure, complete with risks to the mother and - no matter what your political or religious beliefs - a death sentence for the unborn.

      And I'd have to ask: Would you really be comfortable taking THAT upon yourself?

  11. First off, I think the President's 'statement' constituted nothing other than pandering to a certain portion of his 'base'.

    That he completely reversed his previous 'statements' (plural) on the exact same issue apparently buzzed right over their heads, like a pesky mosquito.

    Wow! Who'd a thunk it? When just last year, he refused to send Holder and his merry D.O.J. on ANY further D.O.M.A. cases.

    All issues NOT enumerated in the Constitution ARE the responsibility of the States.

    Although his 'base' can and will get all a-flutter over this new and exciting 'proclamation', for once, the Pres. was right. Marriage is a STATE issue.

    A question for those of you who feel that marriage should be a (federal) civil rights matter... What about polygamy? Wouldn't denying men the opportunity to marry all the women they choose constitute a violation of THEIR 'civil' rights?

    And if your answer is NO.. Why not? Would that not imply that you feel SOME are more entitled to the 'free expression' of THEIR civil rights - than others?

    'Tis a slippery slope upon which we find ourselves.

    1. Hi Dara,

      I have to strongly disagree with attempting to apply the ‘slippery slope’ argument to this context. It is the exact same strategy people used to justify opposition to just about every single major civil rights movement in our history; from slavery, to segregation, to sexism and the right to vote.

      The whole ‘slippery slope’ is an argument/logical fallacy that does not hinge on any sort of actual proof but rather often made-up assumptions that do not represent reality.

      If there is an actual evidence or proof that “x leads to y”, by all means it’s a fine argument to make. But there is absolutely no evidence or reason to believe that ‘legalizing gay marriage means we will soon have to legalize pedophilia’, just as there is no evidence or reasoning behind me argument that ‘allowing the states to ban gay marriage means the next step is them banning marriage all together; slippery slope!’

      Likewise, a topic being a state issue does not excuse it from Constitutional interference. Slave ownership used to be exclusively a state issue too, yet I’m sure you don’t disagree with the steps our government took on that? Same for segregation?

  12. We now have two very different answers on gay people's attitudes to marriage, but the evidence for suggesting one or the other is correct is not overwhelming in either direction. If any of you know of more research or studies, please do get in touch.