Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stating the obvious: Obama comes clean on marriage equality

Today President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, after days of rampant speculation following Vice President Biden doing the same, leaving many asking, why now?  After years of pressure from the LGBTQ* community for the President to take a stand, picking an election year seems a curious choice. Many people, myself included, believed that the President would remain vague on his position until after being elected for a second term (which at this point seems inevitable). However, it seems that the President, faced with being cornered on the issue after Biden's remarks, decided that it would be in his best interest to show support for marriage equality, and to firmly plant himself on the right side of History.

Will this be the fire under the collective Republican ass this election? Will this get the Republican base out to the polls despite a less than luke warm appreciation for Mitt Romney? The main theme of this election will be weighing the Republican hatred of Obama with their distaste for Mitt Romney, and this is not a winning equation for Romney. Additionally, the larger question of the economy may be more important to independent voters than Obama's stance on this issue. If independent voters believe that Obama has successfully managed the economy in difficult times, the question of marriage equality could fall by the wayside come November. This is not to say that President Obama is not taking a risk by taking this stance in an election year. If Americans fear change as much as the discouraging result in North Carolina last night suggests, this may well be the issue that gets the vote out for Romney and makes this a tighter race than it was before.

Was this move solely for political gain? I suspect President Obama has always been in favour of marriage equality, but he weighed the the political climate and decided that he couldn't do it until now, and only after essentially having a decision forced upon him. As distasteful as that sounds, it can only mean good things in the end. Instead of asking whether this was politically motivated (because in the end, all things are), perhaps the public should ask themselves if, although long in coming, this decision was important for furthering the cause of the LGBTQ* community. Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. President Obama is the first, but hopefully not the last President to support marriage equality, which is at this point, only a matter when and how.