President Obama Speech Last Night Shows Love for Women and LGBTQ Voters

Barack Obama hugged Bill Clinton at the DNC on Wednesday night like he had done him a favor, but will Clinton’s endorsement be enough?

Clinton’s speech was more policy-based and detail-oriented than typical of this election’s National Convention rhetoric, responding to specific Republican attacks on Obama’s presidency. He also made Obama seem prudent when facing difficult decisions stating, “No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.” Both Democratic presidents are energetic, excellent speakers, but Clinton is one thing Obama is not: popular.

Clinton’s average approval rating in his second term was 61%, although approval ratings in his first term were lower. Moreover, Clinton had a 60% approval rating upon reelection. Obama’s average approval rating is 49% to date, with 44% this past week (August 28 to September 2). Although nostalgia definitely contributes to the prestige of a former president, Obama needs to find some love.

So where might he be looking? Amongst the marginalized: women and gay voters.

Mitt Romney has officially rejected parts of the GOP’s platform as established at the RNC last week, which called for a constitutional amendment banning abortion without exemptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. In an interview with CBS, Romney said, "My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother."

Romney may have bitten the hand that feeds him by dissenting from his party’s platform, but will Obama follow suit?

I don’t think so.

Since 1976, the first presidential election after the 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, the right to a safe and legal abortion has been a part of the Democratic Party platform. In her DNC speech Tuesday, Michelle Obama stated, “…he [Barack] believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care. That’s what my husband stands for.”

Moreover, DNC speaker Sandra Fluke, who spoke about contraception at a congressional hearing and was consequently deemed a “slut” by the ever-distasteful Rush Limbaugh, said, “Our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters – not his delegates or donors – and stands with all women."

Additionally, Obama rejects parental notification requirements and supports Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research. Despite this, Obama rejected tax-payer funded abortions in July 2010, as previously provided for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or ObamaCare.

Concerning gay rights, the Democratic Party has added a “Freedom to Marry” or pro-same-sex marriage plank to its platform, while the GOP maintains support of the Defense of Marriage Act in its platform. In support of gay rights, Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and he will very likely speak in support of same-sex marriage in tonight’s speech.

Although he opposed civil unions in his 2008 campaign, in an interview with ABC in May 2012, Obama historically stated, "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." Moreover, Michelle stated in her DNC speech that, “… he [Barack] wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are… or who we love.” She also included amongst examples of American heroism that “…if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.”

In addition to abortion and same-sex marriage, the Obama campaign addresses equal rights for women in the work-force. Michelle spoke to the “glass ceiling” Barack’s grandmother had hit and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Barack signed.

Instead of hammering in the Republican “war on women” and gays, DNC speeches thus far have highlighted Obama’s achievements and support of equal rights. Obama will likely do the same in tonight’s speech.

Although Ann Romney may have told women in her RNC speech last week they are the “hope of America” and the “best of America”, it is clear that Ann’s “love" (or the GOP's for that matter) will do little to ensure reproductive freedom, same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, or women’s right to equal pay.


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McKenzie Ann Snow

McKenzie Ann Snow earned a B.S. in Political Science, Pre-Law from Kansas State University. As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, she is currently pursuing her M.S. in International Development and Management at Lund University in Sweden. McKenzie will then serve as a 2012-2013 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Africa, during which time, she intends to conduct her master’s research. In South Africa she is interested in school choice and aims to build on concepts in her bachelor’s research, in which she compared privately-funded and publicly-funded child welfare institutions in Ghana. In addition to aspects of child capacity, she is also interested in the effects of international trade policy on developing economies and the effects of agricultural subsidies on international food security.

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