Open thread: "Same sex couples should be able to get married"—Barack Obama, May 9, 2012

Photo: At a bar in San Francisco, Horst Linsen of Germany watches TV as President Obama voices support to same-sex marriage. (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama said today he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. Your thoughts on the news, and what it means for the presidential election season in America, are welcome in the comments.


    1. More like, “Took you long enough, asshole. Now let’s hear something about the TSA and bankers.”

        1. Absolutely. The country may have inched closer to the way I’d like to see it today, but the President still has a ways to go. I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade.

          1. I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade.

            The American people rained on their own parade by not voting out enough republicans and bluedog democrats in the House and Senate.  I just hope we don’t repeat the same, massive failure as a citizenry again this Fall.

        2. Sorry but this is a major disappointment.  Nothing new here.  How about moving the Democratic National Convention to a state that supports same sex marriage?  That’s right–not gonna happen.  Any president that thinks the states should decide a civil rights issue is clueless.  You missed the whole point Xeni.

      1. If your such a great leader why are not you the one blazing the trail? 18 likes for a comment that takes good news and negates it utterly by saying he should change everything to your satisfaction. UHG.

      2. I hope you’ve been picketing the banks with Occupy, or volunteering for the few congressmen/women who are pressing the banks/TSA.

        Because otherwise…

        1. The president didn’t save anyone in the car crash. Gave us his opinion(weak) than said it is not up to him. Later announces it is not part of his platform. Passes it back to the states. He gained campaign dollars. No one else gained anything. Coward.

          1. I’ve heard otherwise  from a lot of gay marriage activists.  Something about visible support from the most powerful politician in the country.

  1. Gays should be allowed to marry, but states should be allowed to prevent them from marrying.  Hooray, his position has “evolved” to become the same as Dick Cheney’s in 2004!

    I still love the guy, though.  I expect his position will continue to evolve, and he’ll have something else to say about it circa 2018 when he’s appointed Chief Justice and presides over the cases that shut down DOMA and the various state constitutional bans.

    1. That’s a fair point, but man, come on. No US president in office has ever made a statement this bold and direct about equality and same sex marriage.

      1. Yes, but it took a lot of fighting to get to this point and that fight will continue. It’s important to remember that rights are not equal yet, are rolling backwards in places like NC, and we must continue to do everything we can to overwhelm the widespread discrimination.

        1. And that doesn’t mean we can’t take an afternoon to celebrate a milestone event, no matter how long in coming, how minor in scope, or how much effort it took to reach. Let us have this, please. Give us one afternoon to enjoy it before you start shitting all over it because it’s too little, too late, and leaves too much undone.

      2. Xeni, I share your optimism here. Can’t be surprised that the comments are all nay-sayers so far, of course :)

        As you said above, I too am disappointed in Obama in many, many ways. But that he’s willing and able to come out and do something bold – something right also, critically – should give us back a little bit of 2008’s hope at least.

        And it gives some credence to those that argue continued support for Obama so that he can actually be progressive in his second term. Until now there was no evidence that he would do so, but I see this as a sign that maybe he will (I would be extremely surprised if he addresses marijuana, but still).

        I, and I assume most of the BB crowd here, will continue to be disappointed in Obama and will be cautious about any optimism – except when he gives us something solid, such as in this case. Here’s hoping that there’s plenty more like this to come – political move or not, so long as it’s doing the right thing.

      3. Actually, George W. Bush refused to demagogue against same sex marriage, with this great quote about how he “wasn’t going to tell some [gay] kid that he couldn’t get married.”

        I’m not a fan of either president. History will repudiate both their administrations in pretty damnable terms. But, it is pretty cool that Obama has shifted in this direction from his bullshit “sacred covenant between a man and a woman” campaign stance during the 2008 campaign. Let’s also hope he doesn’t get on stage again during the next campaign with homophobic asshats like Donnie McClurkin.

        1. I feel like you’re trying to build some kind of (false) equivalency between these presidents on the issue of gay marriage.

          Sure, Bush said that to his speechwriter about a commencement speech **, but whatever his true convictions are/were, they sure didn’t stop him from pushing for a constitutional amendment restricting marriage in 2004.  That quote only stands out because it’s an exception to everything else he had to say on the issue.

          ** – Can you imagine if some politician *did* condemn gay marriage at your commencement speech? Besides being a total dick move, it’s not savvy. It doesn’t look good for any politician to get overly political (or booed!) at a commencement where it’s supposed to be about the graduates.

        2. George W. Bush refused to demagogue against same sex marriage, with this great quote about how he “wasn’t going to tell some [gay] kid that he couldn’t get married.”

          Bullshit. He publicly voiced support for a proposed Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage in 2004. So maybe he wasn’t planning to tell the gay kid himself, but he was more than willing to prevent it from happening.

          Obama may have been slow to join the fight, but it’s absolutely indisputable that he’s taken a bolder stance for gay rights than any U.S. President in history. He still isn’t perfect but any comparisons to his predecessor on this issue are poor at best.

        3. George W. Bush refused to demagogue against same sex marriage, with this great quote about how he “wasn’t going to tell some [gay] kid that he couldn’t get married.”

          Bullshit. He publicly voiced support for a proposed Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage in 2004. So maybe he wasn’t planning to tell the gay kid himself, but he was more than willing to prevent it from happening.

          Obama may have been slow to join the fight, but it’s absolutely indisputable that he’s taken a bolder stance for gay rights than any U.S. President in history. He still isn’t perfect but any comparisons to his predecessor on this issue are poor at best.

      4.  As a person who has a personal stake in these issues, I have a hard time not feeling more than a little cynical. I was in the military when Clinton was promising that we would be able to serve openly. That resulted in the ill-conceived DADT. So, I am trying hard not to let my expectations run my heart to my sleeve. Politicians have become so focused on the process of winning elections and pleasing lobbyists that it seems rare they put their legislation and executive orders where their mouth is. Should actual change manifest I will be thrilled, mind-blown, and forever a fan should our president deliver on his words.

        1. A President delivering on his words?  That would be crazy.  I wonder if we elected Romney, could we get him to repeal that DADT thing?

          Wait, what’s that?  It’s already gone?I wonder how that happened.

      5. I think you can thank Biden for this more than Obama. He did not just open the window last weekend but actually shouted out of it.

        This is a “preemptive strike” by Obama that will result in little real world change.

    2. Dick Cheney never fucking talked about this while in office! These false equivalencies are driving me bloody insane!

      For god’s sake: a huge push of the Bush/Cheney reelection big was Karl Rove’s BAN GAY MARRIAGE stunt!

  2. Fox News headline:  “Obama Flip Flops, Declares War On Marriage”

    Surprisingly, they went back and changed it later.. now it’s “Obama Flip Flops On Gay Marriage”.

    1. “War On Marriage”….I’m pretty sure it’s been going on for some time now.  I mean we didn’t arrive at an almost 50% divorce rate overnight.

      1.  I asked my wife whether we should be stockpiling weapons for when they come for our marriage.  All I got was a blank look and a long-suffering sigh… I think that’s a yes, right?

        1. Why do you think Obama ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” So he’d have enough gay soldiers to stage a strong offensive!

    2.  I got a screen shot of that one, off Twitter. and posted it on Google+  “War on Marriage”.  Ha, such “balanced” “fair” reporting.  Thank god I live in Canada and don’t have to put up with that ****

      1. Heh, some editor reminded them that they’ve flip-flopped on the “War on ______” trope now that Democrats have started using it.  There is no Republican war on women, remember that!

    3. They love using “flip-flop” to describe any politician who changes his mind on any topic, no matter how well-reasoned their new position is. That’s why, in their universe, Bush & Cheney’s refusal to abandon the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” mantra long after everyone else realized it was based on lies and misinformation was a sign of strength, not weakness.

  3. What I’m more curious about is what does this say about the presidential reelection team’s polling data?  I expected this move to the left if a more hard-line conservative like Rick Santorum had gotten the nomination.  The fact a (more) centrist Republican has become the presumptive nominee would have lead me to believe Barack would have been forced to tippie toe through such contentious issues in order to court the swing voters.

    In other words I believe this was a carefully planned and timed political move and am heartened, not because he did it, but because he felt he could do it.

    1. I think the Democrats are taking a bet here. They think that Romney will play Mr. Conservative Republican who wasn’t the Governor of Massachusetts and effectively legalized same sex marriages for a while.

    2.  Or it just means that he intends to force Romney to eat every hard right position he was forced to take in the primaries. The one thing that Romney does NOT want is to spend the next six months having Obama airing ads that show clips of his hard right primary statements contrasting with new middle of the road general election statements. Nothing better to piss off both the far right (for betraying them) and the middle ground he wants to attract (for public hypocrisy).

      I doubt that Romney is happy with the timing of this statement either. Too close to the primaries for him to really distance himself from previous positions but he is almost forced to respond and it will be played as one f his first general election statements. So who does he cater to?

      1. Wait, but you are totally over estimating the far Right.  It doesn’t matter how far center he moves or how far away from the hard right he gets.  Cause you know what, he ain’t no Obama.  And there in lies the reality…it’s not about electing Romney, it’s about defeating Obama.
        *sigh* (cause I know it’s the truth.)

        1. That, and Conservative discourse provides for the condition of a built-in enemy, the government. As long as there’s an identifiable government, you have something to complain about.

    3. Maybe it was a spontaneous and heartfelt decision motivated simply by doing what’s just and right. Maybe it’s not a calculated political manipulation….naaah.

      I guess the need to motivate the base outweighs the need to play-it-safe with the swing voters. It seems to me that very few people will switch their vote because of today’s announcement anyway.

      Cynicism aside, it’s wonderful news and should be celebrated, regardless of the politics underlying it all.

      1. Very few people may not switch, but you might find a lot more people voting in the first place. Whether he’s just pissed off even more conservatives into ensuring they vote against him, or restored the faith of enough progressive voters is another matter. Surely somewhere in the middle, but we’ll see.

    4.  I’d say he found out the liberals in this country are bitterly disappointed in his first term, and he realized he needed to do something to energize the left. If the liberals stay home, and the conservatives don’t, he could easily lose this.

          1. i’m sure i’m not alone in donating to his campaign for the first time this year yesterday.

  4. Did Obama declare he was going to shut down Guantanamo, as well as pull out of Afghanistan, before he got elected? I’m from Canuckistan, and from peripheral info I can’t tell if this guy does a lip-service act or what. Please would any and all mutants who think that they are ‘literate’ w/re: american politics please reply with your angles, opinions, references, et cetera.
    Lovingly, Genre.
    Post Script — I’m ‘multi-model agnostic’, for those of you who want to know my political leanings. See: Charles Fort, Robert Anton Wilson, Raoul Vaneigem.
    Post-Script Edit — Apologies for the yanking, folks. I just saw what I did there.

    1. I like to think that he’s done what he can. WRT to Guantanamo, I think the thing preventing its closure has been that no one will take them – while not all the detainees need to be there, or are even prop ‘militants’ (AFAIK)’ there are ‘proper militants’ being held there – and no one in the US wants them around. But, if he applied more energy to it, I’m sure another solution could be found. Source – politifact

      WRT Afghanistan, I can’t find any campaign promises about getting out. He made others about supporting the military that he has followed through on, though. Source – politifact

      Overall, I think he’s done pretty well, especially considering the opposition he has received. It’s a problem of limited time and limited political capital. Personally, I’m quite happy with what he’s managed to do, and wish he could have gone further, but I’ll take what I can get.

    2. Well, you certainly yanked the topic away from gay marriage in a hurry.

    3. Obama is good intentions and hot air. He’s lacked the follow-through for 70% of what he promised, but the 30% he accomplished (given an obstructionist congress) is worthwhile — even if he also endorsed lots of crappy policies. Not the magical panacea we had hoped given optimistic 2008 speeches, and not even my first choice for 2012, but certainly better than Romney.

    4. By “lip service” do you mean “does he promise things that he may or may not be able to deliver in a timely fashion or at all”?

      If so then I want to introduce you to a dictionary and point out the word “politician”, then have you meditate on that for a while.

      So the answer is “yes”, but the REAL question after is “Has Obama delivered on his promises more consistently than another politician in his place would or could have done?”

      To which the correct answer is “who the fuck knows?” 

  5. Anyone should be allowed to marry if they love each other.  I’m in Canada, and we have same sex marriage.  Are we falling apart at the seams?  No, we are continuing along, quite secure in our marriages.  Any country and any state that allows it is to be applauded. And I applaud the President on doing it.  Finally he felt the need and the support to say it.  And yes a majority of the US supports marriage equality. Finally the USA is coming out of the dark ages.

    1. I live in NC and thoroughly want to kick some people in the balls for voting for our “Marriage Amendment”….

      I agree, it’s none of my business nor the states if you want to get married.  If a church won’t let you get married (in it), then fine that is okay by me.  But legally anyone should be able to get married IMO.  And the absolute worst thing I hear from the homophobic one man one woman crowd is about the sanctity of marriage.  Bull shit.  If marriage was so sacred then people’s devotion to their religion of choice and their faith would be holding together more marriages than 50% (or in NC’s case roughly mid 50’s).  My marriage isn’t based in some belief in god.  It is based in my devotion, respect, and love to my partner and wife.

      1. “We can’t get married ‘cos your book says so? Okay, I’ll accept that, if you can’t get divorced — ‘cos your book says so!”

  6. It means a lot and not very much at the same time. It means a lot in the sense of reflecting a society that is in some way living up to its own ideals and self image.

    But from a purely political perspective, not very much. It is essentially a free ride for Obama since he knows Republicans, and many Democrats, can be counted on to block any real action (now that he’s taken executive orders off the table). So he gets good vibes from the liberal base without having to actually do anything beyond talk. It’s the Democratic equivalent of a Republican promising to ban abortion.

    1.  You forgot the third branch. Obama will be appointing new Supreme Court Justices if he is re-elected.

      Same-sex marriage is not a right in most States today because voters could at any time change their State Constitutions to ban it. The only way it will become an enduring right is with a US Constitutional Amendment (unlikely) or if the Supreme Court finds it to be a civil right.

      1. the constitution already says this:
        Amendment XIV
        Section 1.
        All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction
        thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        “some people can marry but others can’t” doesn’t fit with that last part…  not even a little.

        1. The constitution also explicitly prevents the federal government from doing that vast majority of the things it does now: environmental regulation, social security, income taxes etc.  It’s what we call “constitutional interpretation”.

          If you would have told the founders that their sentence of “all men are created equal” to include women and blacks, there would have been a lot of spit-takes.

          I’m not saying this shouldn’t be the correct interpretation, just that you need the right SC Justices to interpret the constitution “the right way”.  

          Life is Politics, and Politics is Power.

      2. That’s quite true but, barring sudden heart attacks, he isn’t going to be replacing any of the conservatives on the bench. They’ll hold out for his successor if at all possible. Consider this:

        “We’re approaching a situation where supreme court nominees are approved or not on straight party line votes.” And when the Senate requires 60 votes to even bring a nominee to the floor, party line votes are going to result in extended vacancies on the court. Mourdock, the guy who just beat Lugar in a primary challenge, told Fox News yesterday that his idea of bipartisanship is that Democrats should agree with Republicans on every point. That’s a quite common point of view in the GOP today, and is a recipe for blocking confirmation of every even vaguely Democratic nominee.

  7. Great news, but as a gay North Carolinian, it comes a day late to make me very happy.  Why did Obama wait to finish “evolving” until after the NC primary?  It would not have swung the vote, but the extra voice, especially from a Black leader, would have been much appreciated.

      1. I suspect his opposition to that measure would have been much more well known if he’d announced his decision to stop being a bigot a week ago.  Not saying it would have changed the outcome, but I think there would have been some effect, all of it positive.

        And, of course, he waited to announce this until soon after the first time polls have shown that a slight minority of Americans oppose gay marriage.

        It’s a positive thing that it’s got America talking about the subject, but Obama hasn’t really proved himself to be sincere or trustworthy on too many other issues to have earned any real kudos on this.

        1. The national polls have been pro-gay marriage for quite a while now.  The problem is that gay marriage has been and is *still* bad with /likely-voters/, who are uniformly older and more conservative than the general public.  Same with the war-on-drugs and a number of other progressive issues.

    1. @pseudodoctor Given the # of people who voted for Obama in 2008 and then voted for this resolution, I can’t help but wonder if his statement today will result in at least a bit of a drop off in states like NC, VA, FL, etc. The media consensus seems to be there will be no real drop-off in the black vote in swing states, but I’m not comfortable making that assumption. There may well be people with a combination of disillusionment with the economy/his first term generally & religious/cultural conservatism on that issue, who just stay home this time out. Still think the announcement is awesome news, just wonder about this.

  8. My opinion evolved on this as well. I thought the gov. should get out of the marriage gig altogether and issue civil union licenses to whoever wanted one. But since they don’t do that, and since being legally married provides you with all sorts of necessities like health care, they need to open it up to everyone. 

    1. I’ve beeen thinking that way for a while – make civil unions represent all government related rights (hospital visitation, inheritance, etc.), and marriages be purely a religious matter.

      1. Marriage isn’t a religious matter. You can get married without religion being involved but you can’t get married without a marriage license. So why not continue to call marriage “marriage” and if a religion is involved we can call it “[name of religion] marriage”. That way people who are “Christian married” can feel superior to those who are merely married and everyone else can continue doing what they want.

        1. A lot of religious people think marriage is a religious matter, and you’ll never convince them otherwise. I say let them have the damn word, it’s not worth fighting over. It’s the rights that matter, and they could be covered by making “marriage” legally meaningless and substituting “civil union” throughout.

          1.  The best part is, if you make religion purely a religious matter… well, then any religion that wants to can marry gay people, and they’ll be EXACTLY as married as any other married couple. 

            Unfortunately, removing all legal connection to marriage is simply not likely to happen.  Waaay too much inertia.  So we need to focus on making the legal right legally available to all. 

  9. I got an email from him this afternoon. It started

    “Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer:”

    The man needs new handlers. Either that, or he’s REALLY PROUD that this time he gave a direct answer to a direct question (I guess there’s a first time for everything). I know that’s unusual for the guy, but. . . . .

  10. speaking as a gay citizen, i’ll say it: THANK YOU, mr. president. yes, it’s been a long time coming, but xeni is right — it was stunning for me to hear it, and even now just thinking about how both a seated president and a seated VP, within a week of each other, have both said this…. *tears*… it’s been a long road, and we’re not there yet, but this is HUGE to me. i remember when a seated president would not even SAY the word “AIDS”, much less “gay”, and wouldn’t even acknowledge the thousands and thousands of his own countrymen who were literally dying outside his door, and now here we are. it’s a wonderful feeling, and i won’t let anyone sully the moment by spinning it as purely a political move, or that it’s a weak gesture, or what have you. for me, it’s simply historic, and i’m so very proud to call him my president.

    1. I”m so happy for every single one of my gay friends in the USA tonight.  Finally your leader has stepped up and said what should have been said a very long time ago.  The roadblocks put up by laws won’t last long.  Look at the civil rights movement.  When the president got on board the movement only grew in power.  Love will find a way. Marriage equality will find a way to be heard, some day in every single state in the U.S.  They may kick and scream like little spoiled children but we’ll drag them there.

    2. I feel so torn on this – on one hand I want pump my fists because it is an amazing milestone!… on the other hand, there’s just such a cold creepy lingering fear that it might all be taken away again… Let’s keep it positive! (speaking to myself more than anyone!)

    1. Well, Take that North Carolina! and the 29 or 30 other states, including some “liberal” places like California, that have passed anti-marriage equality amendments. Still find it strange that everyone is bashing NC so hard for its crime of _not_ passing one of these as soon as Florida, California, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, the whole Deep South, etc. Is this the inevitable result of the 24-hour news cycle taking over? Things that are really 15-20 year trends in a majority of US states are instead put primarily on the most recent example. It’s easier to remember who the bad guy is that way, I guess?

      And do you really have to put it on the whole state, including everyone who fought their asses off in this defeat?  North Carolina, and North Carolinians, are the main losers in this fight – and it already sucks enough as it is!!!!

        1. Doesn’t change my point that what you really mean to say is “Take that more than half of America’s population!” rather than “Take that [the last Southern state, and one of the last purple states, to engage in this bullshit, because you hadn’t let the Republicans take charge of both houses of legislature since 1870, until the 2010 election]!

          But if you think it makes you superior that there’s no real adversary to worry about in these kinds of fights in your state, go for it. I tend to think the real battles take place in states where there’s actually a struggle.

          1. I struggle not to punch above my weight, too.

            All that other stuff, I dinnae say any of it.

      1. Yeah, what’s disturbing about North Carolina voting to travel back into the 1950s is that it has a reputation for having a significant progressive element.

      2. To be fair, the SC proposition is CONSIDERABLY more draconian and tyrannical than almost any other of those state’s propositions.  The SC amendment not only enshrines homophobia and hate in their constitution, it actively prevents anything resembling a civil-union for everyone, including straight couples.  No hospital visitation rights, no inheritance, no nothing.  

        Just bitterness and despair.

    1. Are you hinting that I shouldn’t vote for Roseanne in the primary?

  11. Another Canadian (with a queer sister + sister-IN-LAW) signing in. While I do agree with a good deal of what people on the “took you long enough!” side of this are saying, I just have to say that today I am so happy for all of my LGBT friends on the underside of the border. Yes, there’s still a very long way to go; but think of it this way: Stonewall was less than 50 years ago. YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!

  12. I have to be honest I’m really surprised he took a stand on anything this “controversial” before an election. Then I felt this was calculated and I felt cynical about it. But then I saw reactions, such as George Takei’s reaction, and I thought, you know, maybe this was a big deal. This will certainly change the conversation and maybe even help a few kids, who now know for sure the President is with them.

      1. “Maybe it will inspire Mitt to change his mind too.”

        Well, then the whole notion of Log Cabin Republicans would at least make sense.

        1. Well, then the whole notion of Log Cabin Republicans would at least make sense.

          Let’s not go wild now.

          1. 20 strapping young male Republicans in a log cabin, and you’re saying let’s NOT go wild? 
            Come come now Antinous! ;)

  13. I’m glad he said this, and I sure hope marriage equality comes soon (what’s the current status of the California Prop. 8 lawsuit vis-a-vis US Supreme Court, by the way?)  but in my view we are approaching it backward somewhat.
    The people who have “special rights” right now are heterosexual couples, who automatically are granted certain “rights” and privileges such as hospital decision-making, etc. 
    The states need to get out of the sacrament of marriage, leaving that to the churches.  The churches need to get out of the civil partnership part of marriage, leaving that to the bureaucrats.  The hospital decision-making and other “spousal” things need to be spelled out in legal partnerships which any people can enter into, which any two or more people can enter into right now, and not just “assumed” because a church has witnessed some religious ceremony.
    I believe doing those things should remove the emotional aspects of the gay marriage “argument” and will leave worrying about the morality of it to the moralists, while solving the constitutional and legal issue of an imbalance of rights among some of the citizens.

    1. I agree that marriage should be a legal contract, not a government sanction. But that’s not going to happen. Maybe never, at least not for a century. So in the meantime, we’d like the equal rights.

      1. And another hundred years to get churches out of the private relationship business.  A lot of us thought civil unions were a workable end-run but apparently there’s a preference for tackling marriage head on.  Well, here we go…

        1.  Well, no – the churches’ proper place is with the private relationship, and their sanction or not according to their dogma. The state can and should not legislate that a religion must or must not do anything in contrast to their beliefs.

          The state’s place is in the recognition and enforcement of the legal construct that is marriage. From the point of view of the law, any married couple, regardless of gender makeup, must enjoy the same legal privileges of property in common, inheritance/probate, power of attorney, next of kin, etc. that those of us in hetero marriages do.

          Whether your church decides to recognize your legal bond or perform your wedding ceremony is between you and your church. If, according to your religion’s dogma, your legal bond gets you thrown out of your church is again between you and it. The state can and should not be involved, just as the churches can and should not be involved in the legal realm of whether the state recognizes the marriage.

    2.  Anyone who tells you you’re asking for a special privelege, generally already has it.

  14. I really want to like this guy.

    He’s intelligent, well spoken, and moderate in his political outlook. His statesman’s demeanor and high personal integrity make him an awesome head of state and shows something positive about America in a time when few things about our nation can be shown as positive to the rest of the world. But there are just some aspects of his time in office that make me want to pick up a sign and stand in a public space until I get pepper-sprayed for voicing my opinion.

    No President really has much control over the price of oil, corporate hirings, or even the value of the dollar. In fact, the president has precious little control over the economy in a capitalist state, which at the rate we are going means that soon the government will have NO control over the economy. When I see talking heads on 24 hour news channels pontificating, I just sigh, shake my head, and reach for my TV-be-gone.

    However what a president in America DOES have direct control over is the Military and the Department of Justice. A President does have control over what things get marked “secret”, and who gets prosecuted for trying to shine light on government miss-deeds. Our President chooses to assert American law over citizens of other nations with no ties to the US, and bully those nations with unfair extradition treaties. With the stroke of a pen the president can choose to stop “enhanced” interrogations, secret military courts, secret no-fly lists and end warrantless searches of American citizens. Our President has the power to rein in federal agents, prosecutors, and government officials who feel like it’s ok to “bend” the civil rights of citizens because the ends justify the means.

    These things do not take the cooperation of congress or approval by the courts. They fall squarely within executive purview, and he would only answer to the voters.Why are these things not being changed? Are we still living in fear? Does the influence by corporate America hold so much sway that a president would forgo what is right in the hopes of garnering financial support to win an election? Does he really believe in his heart that there is no problem, and that these things which he can control are to his liking? When he looks at the actions of our Military and our Justice Department, is this his vision of what America should be? If it is, then I think I like Hillary Clinton’s vision of America better.    

    I’m glad President Obama has pulled the issue of Gay Marriage into the open, and placed it on the national stage. The treatment of LGBT persons in this country is our generation’s civil rights movement. He ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and for the first time some of my dearest friends can now be open about who they are in a profession they love. He chose to instruct the Justice Department not to defend DOMA, which cracks the door open for civil suits challenging the law.

    But sadly at the end of the day, the marriage contract is something defined, granted, and enforced by the several states. An American President has about as much influence over it as he does gas prices. 

    I want my President to change the things he has direct power over to return the promise and the dream of America to her citizens and show the world that our “ideals” are more than just a historic anachronism or marketing fluff. 

    1. “With the stroke of a pen the president can choose to stop “enhanced” interrogations”

      Yeah, that box was checked off, like, three years ago?  I won’t argue with the majority of your argument, in fact I agree with most of it very strongly, but this meme that Obama has done nothing to stop the practice of torture is simply false.  Could he do more?  Certainly!  Prosecuting the people responsible would be a huge step, and would also likely end his administration in a matter of weeks.  Congress holds the real power here, or the Supreme Court; Congress could pass a law more precisely defining torture or the Supreme Court could give a judgement classifying these practices as what they are; crimes against humanity, and irremovable stains on our souls.

      I understand why people are upset though; this excuse, though I find it to be valid and persuasive, does nothing to dispel the disgrace I feel as an American knowing that my country tortures it’s enemies.

  15. @farcedude — A perfectly sensible solution, which extends the necessary civil rights to everyone, while simultaneously allowing the hardcore religious to restrict marriage however they like. A compromise in which everyone would be treated fairly.

    Sadly, that’s why it won’t happen any time soon.

  16. It’s a first in American history from a sitting president, isn’t it?  So Barack deserves credit.  Still, it’s not just up to states.  Who gets married, then goes to another state and finds out they’re not?

  17. I used to be on the Civil Unions bandwagon because that would benefit opposite-sex couples who didn’t want traditional marriages as well.  Like some members of my family, and a few friends.  But a gay friend convinced me that if it wasn’t marriage it wasn’t equal and he deserved equality.  Hard to argue with that.  So I’m glad that the President finally took this stand.  There will be hell to pay, but so many Americans who have waited so long deserve their rights at last.

    1. Calling opposite-sex pairings “marriage” and same-sex ones “civil union” would be “equal but separate”, ie apartheid, yeah. But, ff opposite-sex pairings were legally called civil unions too, and the word “marriage” had no legal significance whatsoever, then *that* would be equal. At least as equal as some kids getting christened and others just getting a form dropped off at the bureau of births, deaths & marriages, anyway.

      1. I agree, but if you think getting gay marriage to be recognized is hard?   Try stripping the word “marriage” from the legal rights associated with it.  

        You will go down in history as the least successful politician of All Time.

  18. So, here’s a thought. Santorum was the socially conservative candidate, the sweater vest ticket. Romney is the economically conservative candidate. Since Santorum is gone for now and Romney doesn’t really like dealing with social issues as much, does that mean that Obama just generally gets to be more vocal about rights and freedoms and all that stuff.

  19. It’s not that Obama keeps promising to take us to the amusement park but keeps on taking us to the dentist instead.  He doesn’t even promise to take us to the amusement park.  He merely says “At a certain point it is important for me to affirm that my personal feeling is that a trip to the amusement park would be a fine thing” while doing absolutely nothing to help make that happen, while all his fans cry “At last!  At last!  He’s taking us to the amusement park!” and loyally refuse to notice that he’s just driving us to the dentist again.

    1. There is an argument to be made that this step is entirely insufficient, an argument I am sympathetic to. However your metaphor breaks down completely singling out Obama as the person driving us to the ‘dentist’.

  20. I was going to vote for him anyway.  Romney (or anyone from the right) was never a valid choice.  Sure, Obama hemmed and hawed around the issue for far too long, but that he ended the nonsense before the election says a lot.  (What it says, I’m not quite sure…but it says something, right?)  Is Obama the *perfect president*?  Uh, no.  Surprisingly, he can’t seem to grant all our 1000000 wishes like a genie.  (And that’s what we, his supporters, expected of him, isn’t it?)  But he’s better than most.

  21. I wondered if the Biden statement was to test the waters before an Obama statement. Regardless, Obama needs a feather in his cap for his voters. Lots of disappointment. (Which is interesting, because a lot of Repub I knew were disappointed in Bush; it just took two terms for that to happen.)

  22. Probably the closest thing to this was C. Everett Koop getting Reagan to endorse condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.  Talk about a nightmare of idiocy, based on lies and prejudice, but he did do it.

  23. These are my rambling thoughts.

    1. the job of most laws are to give us freedom to do something. laws generally only say you can’t do something when it can directly hurt another person.  who is being hurt if gays marry? yes, some people might be hurt emotionally because they fear it. but guess what, someone out there is probably also emotionally hurt by women voting, or blacks not being slaves.  you can’t please everyone.

    2. the only argument i ever hear against gay marriage is because it’s a sin. except that’s out of context.  gay marriage is not a sin, gay sex is (according to them).  in this case, you’re making the argument that if they are married, they will have gay sex, but guess what… the do it anyways. you can’t stop gays from being in gay relationships… you’re just being a bully. like the kid that doesn’t share their toys.

    2.2 aditionally, you’re making the argument that your religion is against it, so you are too. but what if you were part of a religion that accepts it.  you’re now repressing a different religion in favor of a different one, the one of the majority in power.  that is wrong

    3. it should be perfectly ok with lawmakers to disagree with a law, but still support its merit.   agree to disagree. suppose all law makers passed a law that you can’t wear red because it’s interpreted that you support communism and therefor against democracy and the government.  first the government is not suppose to be about retaliation, you can totally hate america and still live in it. that’s what makes us so great. secondly on what basis are we saying lawmakers can deny us rights? in line with thought 1, in the past law makers have passed laws hated by the majority (or majority of the vocal at least) on personal issues.  but we’re the right thing to do because they decided that it wasn’t their call to say group A could not do action A and action B.  

    3.1 on grounds of a religious issue, it’s not the law makers decision. it’s GOD’s law, not secular law.  law makers can’t invoke religious reasons for passing laws, instead they only have religious reasons for why they may or may not agree with an issue. laws need to be focused on secular reasons only. in this case, the gay hating lawmakers as much as they hate the idea of it, should still support the law if their only grounds is on religious reasons. they are also free to hate homosexuals for it. as long as they don’t go beating people up because it, they can be angry all they want. much along the same lines that they might not like inter-racial marriages, the difference being that the former is now a bit more common place and accepted practice, so even if they did hate it, they have to live with it being part of society.

    4. I’ve yet to hear a logical reason against gay marriage other then the person apposing it doesn’t not like the thought of it, because they are somehow uncomfortable with the idea. that’s not a reason to make laws banning it … in fact, that’s a horrible reason to make laws. i would go so far as to argue that congress seems to make new laws just because.  at what point do we need to stop making laws?  congress should only be making new laws to prevent bad things from happening again. such as the housing market collapse.  what percentage of laws passed in the last 5 years was really worth passing?  i’m increasing feeling that the government is just nosing around because it has nothing better to do.  we should pass a law that say at least one year out every 10 years the government can’t change or create any new laws, just so that we slow them down….

    5. laws need to be re-written so that any law referring to marriage needs to say civil union. man and woman want legal protections as a couple, they need to get a civil union. they get married in a church… that’s great for them, but they still need to go to town hall and get a civil union.  i think a problem with marriage is that it’s tied to strongly with the church. there needs to be a distinction in that their is a secular union, recognized by the state, and not be tied to the church.  a religious marriage is different and is not recognized by the state. two marriages for two different reasons.  i know it’s a lot to ask for, but it would make the separation of church and state laws much easier. Also define a union as an agreed about union between two consensual human adults.  broad as possible.

    1. the job of most laws are to give us freedom to do something

      But laws generally fall into two categories. They either authorise the government to do something (raise taxes for example) or prohibit the population from doing things (killing each other for example). I don’t need a law to permit me step over the lines in the footpath when I go for a walk.

      1. ok. so we’ve got 3 categories.

        Constitutional laws with give freedom.  authority laws giving the government the power to do something. and then restrictive laws. these restrictive laws, if i’m understanding correctly tell people the shouldn’t do something because it infringes on other peoples rights (usually granted in the constitutional category). So again, the argument here is that gay’s should not marry because it infringes on the rights of other people (ie churches) to deny gay marriages?  I still don’t understand how this is an argument.  can some one please give me a logical reason gays should not be able to marry?

        continuing with thoughts from earlier.  if a religion recognizes a gay marriage as valid, doesn’t the government have to support it? the correct stance on the government I think, should be that yes gays can marry, but we can not force your religion to acknowledge it.

  24. In my office this morning there were  a lot of people that thought this news was fantastic. It’s great that a US President has the guts to say something and it makes me feel like the US despite the horrific recession is heading in the right direction. I mean, any direction away from George W and Palin was going to be a good thing, but this is the sort of progressive stance that makes me genuinely like the guy, not just dislike him less than the previous fuckstick-arsehole-P.O.S.

    In less positive news I’m still disappointed in our own head of state for not having the guts to say what I’m absolutely positive she actually believes. Julia Gillard is an atheist, she’s a feminist (so she should at least believe in equality), one of her most important cabinet members is openly gay and has recently become a mother, and she came from a pretty progressive left-wing background. I mean she ended up in the Labor party, not The Greens, but her roots were still definitely on the progressive side of the debate.

    The idea that a left-wing, progressive, feminist, that picks openly gay members for her cabinet, wouldn’t support marriage equality just doesn’t fit in my mind at all. Yet she’s such a political chicken-shit that she’ll never say it in public.

    The worst thing is it would probably do her good, or at least it would have if she hadn’t denied it so many fricking times in the past. Australian voters don’t trust Gillard because she doesn’t seem to hold strong opinions on anything, or at least her strong opinions change enough that of course you never believe her when she claims to have them.

    1. About Julia, I think part of the problem goes back to the DLP which has some remaining elements in the Labor party. This would include conservative religious people like Kevin Rudd and his sister. On the other side you have trade unions which are actually quite redneck and will oppose social issues which they don’t see as a part of their mandate. Then you have the Australian voting public. We are a very right wing, conservative country. Inner urban votes go to the greens these days and there is little point in Labor chasing those voters. Its not going to work. They need to chase voters in the urban sprawl of the major cities and again you have your DLP types and your redneck unionists.

      On a personal level I would like to see the Government get past this and approve gay marriage so that most of us don’t have to heard about it any more. I think it is a distraction from the important issues we have to face. But Gillard knows that she has to pick the right mood. Lets hope the Obama’s initiative will lead to a follow on effect.

      1. I understand the politics of it, but I don’t agree its a smart move on her behalf. Inner urban votes go to the greens these days? We’ve got one Lower House rep that’s a Green, and a handful of senators. The Green’s never end up with a huge chunk of the primary vote anywhere.

        Gillard’s main political problem is that people don’t trust her, it’s not that she’s too left wing. She’d be better of being more left wing and more honest.

    2. Wait, so we’re not the only country with a liberal-ish PM/President who is very disappointing on many liberal issues?

      Thank god.  We were starting to feel like the last person picked for a team in Gym.

    1. You’re standing with him now? Just how is the weather in the 9th circle of hell this time of year?

  25. I had heard reliable chatter he’s a trojan horse within the establishment and will really do great things in his second term (for us sane, ethical people).  Now that it’s getting closer, this news doesn’t surprise me.  Some may dismiss this, but I think people should look at this as a sign of things to come.  IF the progressives get off their ASSES and vote out republicans and bluedog democrats in these next elections so Obama can do his job, we may finally get that change we’ve been desperately wanting.  OK, cynics.. go ahead, have at me, do what cynical people do…

    1. I believe in acknowledging good behavior and keeping a super-soaker full of bile for the other kind. If you don’t acknowledge the good, they won’t keep doing it.

  26. Is it wrong that I look at this and say Meh?

    Why thank you for supporting the idea there shouldn’t be a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage, but lets leave it to a majority vote. 
    How’d that work out for your parents Mr. President?

    If I hear one more time about the “attack on the sanctity of marriage” I swear to the FSM I will choke that person with raw footage from Sister Wives.  Then I will bury them under one of the “temples” of those child raping plural marriage cults that somehow are still somehow operating in this country as “religions”.

    Thank you for giving the talking heads another shot at pointing out this is going to lead to beastiality and all sorts of other horrible things if I am given the right to marry the man I love.  I know my life is not complete unless someone somewhere gets to scream on TV how I am singlehandedly ruining the world by being in love.  Let us trot out some experts who can go on and on about how I can be “cured” and how unnatural my life is. 

    I am not a platform plank. 
    I am not a political hot potato. 
    I am a person with a life and loves and FSM damnit I deserve the same rights as everyone else.
    All men are created equal, so I suggest either I get the same rights as everyone else or they lose rights until they are on my level.

  27. Saying this was by no means a safe bet by Obama. A lot of you are shrugging and saying, “Well, he knew he would make his liberal base happy,” etc. etc.


    He may very well have, by saying what he did, lost a lot of centrist voters in the swing states he needs. He may have lost many votes from the African-American and Latino populations.

    This was not a safe thing to say. It truly took some guts. Kind of like the guts it took to give his race speech in the midst of his campaign.

    He deserves credit for this, and it’s a glimpse of who we had hoped he was.

  28. … and another step out of the 18th century. Other issues: Death penalty, militarism, separation between church and state …

    It’s a small step for humanity and a giant leap for the USA.

  29. Having not read any other comments – my thoughts:  This is certainly an opportune time to draw such a line in the sand against Romney.  Political strategy FTW.

  30. Kinda like how Rick Perry isn’t ashamed to be a Christian. It’s not scary to identify with the majority.

    Speaking of non-scary, non-fringe issues supported by the majority: the War on Drugs, medical cannabis (which deserves a separate mention from the previous), banking crimes, the TSA, climate action, Afghanistan. Anybody wanna help me out? I’m sure there are more.

    On the chance that President Obama is reading this comments section as he says he does: I’m a young queer Latino liberal who intends to vote third party if the President’s current positions maintain their (admittedly lesser than Romney’s) conservatism. My vote isn’t guaranteed; any candidate has to earn it.

  31. I think the two major prejudices that are still practiced in America are against LGBT (openly) and Atheists (quietly but maybe even more widely).  I applaud the President’s stance and hope we can continue to stamp out both.

    1.  I think you’ll find that there’s plenty of open discrimination practiced against “blah” people and furriners (AKA Hispanics) as well once you get off the west coast or out of the northeast.

      1. Well, we all know that even with the laws that say that women and non-whites are equal, many times they aren’t treated that way.  The fact that so many states are openly preventing LGBT people from being equal is horrible, and seeing things like studies showing religious groups think of atheists are on the same level as rapists is appalling.

  32. I’m curious about the claim that his position “evolved.” Do you think that this is true, or is this something he has believed all the while, but simply wouldn’t say for political reasons. I always assumed the latter.

    1. My impression in 2008 was that Hillary Clinton (or John McCain, for that matter) would have gone into a gay bar with a friend if invited, and that Obama would have suddenly remembered that he left the stove on. So I do think that he’s evolved to the position. It’s just an impression, but he seemed a bit stiffer a few years back.

  33. Obama: “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.”

    Really bold, Mr President: “…for me personally…affirm that I think…should be able…”
    That’s some line in the sand. Tepid, with a back door.

  34. He may have just given away the election.   The Evangelicals who consider Romney an apostate and who may have sat out the election will be galvanized.  The conservative religious blacks and hispanics may be more likely to stay home or sway Romney.
    The rubes in this country may ignore war-mongering, open corruption and loss of civil liberties, but dammit if someone goes against their superstitious claptrap.

    1. He may have just given away the election.

      Know what President Johnson supposedly told an aide when he signed the Civil Rights Act? “We have lost the South for a generation.” This turned out to be an optimistic assessment—two generations later the South still remains solidly Republican. But LBJ signed the bill anyway, and it was the right thing to do.

      So you might be correct, but I’m still glad our President took the right stance instead of the safe one.

  35. Now look – marriage is between one man and one woman. According to the Holy Book That Tells All Truth, that one man was Adam and that one woman was Eve. Since then it is quite obvious that none of those sinners cohabiting have been married properly. Thus gay ‘marriages’ are exactly as legitimate as mixed-sex ‘marriages’ – i.e. not at all. S’obvious.

  36. It’s cool he’s open to it. As I would presume most people should/would be.   Hilarity and Hyjinx will ensue pretty soon, as the right wing pundits and high profile conservative media people start popping that forehead vein (or having neary coronary attacks) and spitting all over their microphone to get their point across. Better bring a towel to wipe that mic off.. LOL.

  37. I’m more depressed at how emotionally beaten down we are, and hence how low our expectations are.

    It’s international news that an American president doesn’t entirely support legalized discrimination. Bravo, America.

  38. Please his political base?  He used the word “should”.  He passed the ball back to the states.  His party will hold its convention in a state that just changed its constitution to not allow same sex marriage.  I’m sorry, but this “evolving” position is a lie.  He still holds the same view as he did in 2008. This is nothing to be happy about.

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