Obama Same-Sex Marriage: Endorsement Not Enough

Bipartisan support backed by the U.S. government is calling for the overturn of California’s controversial Proposition 8, which wants to outlaw same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of the ban later this month.  Although President Obama is the first in history to openly support LGBT rights, it has been noted that the president also wishes to leave the decision of law passage to the states.

As executive editor of The Nation, Richard Kim said in a PBS interview, “What Obama said does fall short, technically, of a full embrace of marriage equality. He said he personally is in favor of it, but that he wants to leave the decisions up to the states. And, you know, that essentially preserves the current status quo, where you have all these states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage … A states’ rights approach cannot actually secure full marriage rights for… gay Americans.”

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in nine U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia. Marriage and civil unions are banned in even more states. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether or not the Obama administration is in favor of same-sex marriage. That opinion will do little, if anything, to sway the damage that has already been done.

Proposition 8, coupled with the Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA) also set to be heard this month, are the front-running pieces of legislation that will make or break the future of same-sex marriage in America. If repealed, both measures would set precedent for the recognition of same sex-marriage on behalf of same-sex marriage, one on the state and one on the federal level. But once again, no motion calls for the legalization.

A journalism professor of mine mentioned something interesting about the uphill struggle for same-sex marriage. He said that he overheard the sentiments of other journalists in believing that it was a story that had reached its peak because same-sex marriage would be legal everywhere “soon.” Such an attitude reminded me of the post-feminism argument — that women’s rights have been fully achieved so there is no real need for the proverbial head beating of the feminist argument any longer. I find both arguments to be inaccurate, for good reason.

While our European counterparts like France and England are well are on their way to ratifying same-sex marriage for their entirety of their countries, the most basic step to a future with same-sex marriage still hangs in the balance.

What needs to be seen from the president is iron-fisted leadership, with active endorsement towards a federal push. LGBT couples that are no different from heterosexual couples are being denied the legal protections that come with the title of marriage. This fight is still the civil rights case of the millennial generation that needs to see an end so that other related and relevant issues can take priority — like same-sex couples being allowed to adopt children.

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Zainab Akande

Born and raised in New York City, Zainab is a University of Delaware alum, currently working on obtaining her M.A. in journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York. http://zainabakande.com/

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