On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he should “go ahead and affirm that . . . same sex couples should be able to get married.” While I might have preferred that he do it with a tad more pomp and circumstance, it still did the trick for me. One of my more eloquent and educated friends put it best in his Facebook wall post responding to the news, noting, “This is a BFD.” Now, I’ll leave you to Google to determine exactly what this means, but I will echo his sentiments that this is kind of a big deal.
Before going into how this will affect the march towards November, let me just get this out of the way: I’m a proudly out-of-the-closet gay Democrat, so my enthusiasm about today’s announcement will come as surprise to no one. That said, Obama’s position is the right one. It legitimizes the millions of Americans who are in committed, long-term relationships who merely want the right to enter into civil marriages that provide significant governmental benefits.
Still, there’s no denying that from a political standpoint, the President’s move was smart. First off, it keeps the gays happy – and you know we’re a vocal crowd when we’re not happy. Despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the LGBT community wanted more from the man who pledged to be a “fierce advocate” for our community. This is precisely the type of bold leadership that many LGBT Americans were looking for from the White House, and we finally received it in unequivocal terms. And just for the record, you may have noticed that gay people are pretty good fundraisers.
Second, the President’s move will reinvigorate many of the people who were critical to the success of the President’s 2008 election, but who have since fallen under a bit of Obama malaise. Of particular note are young voters who so passionately clung to Obama and his change mantra back in ’08. Not coincidentally, these younger voters overwhelmingly support the freedom for all Americans to marry. In an August 2011 study published by the Public Religion Research Institute, 62% of Americans under the age of 30 supported their gay friends’ right to get married to the person of their choosing.
Perhaps most importantly, I’d like to put forth another explanation as to why today’s announcement is a good thing for the President: Perhaps he was simply too weighed-down by his own convictions to keep up his “evolution” charade any longer. Let me explain. President Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for 12 years. He worked at a civil rights law firm for 11 years. Now, I went to law school, and I’ve interacted with a number of constitutional law professors. While there’s an exception to every rule, let’s just say that, by and large, they aren’t a particularly right-wing crowd. Given his liberal street cred and Harvard Law Review presidency, I have never once thought that the President actually deep-down personally opposed same-sex marriage. In fact, I would surmise that he believes, from a legal perspective, that any state that denies gay couples the right to marry violates the federal Constitution.
So while there will certainly be a political upside from today’s announcement from the liberal elites and mainstream media, perhaps what President Obama did today was something that so many gay Americans have done on their own: They came out to reveal who they truly are. And in Obama’s case, he’s just another American for marriage equality.
Photo Credit: ep_jhu