In what is probably going to be the biggest news of the week, US President Barack Obama has officially declared his support for marriage equality in the USA, evoking responses such as the picture you see here.
So far the best analysis of this has been at The New York Times, who note that this comes after 2 years of Obama’s ‘evolving’ stance of marriage equality despite the widespread belief that he personally supported it. Of course, in America the fear is of alienating the strong religious voters, which is fairly obvious if you read between the lines:
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.” – Barack Obama
However, the NY Times quite rightly pointed out that there’s been a lot of electoral pressure on Obama to evolve and take a stance, especially given his upcoming political engagements:
“On Thursday, Mr. Obama is to visit the Los Angeles home of the actor George Clooney for a campaign fund-raiser expected to raise about $12 million, much of it from Hollywood people active in the gay rights cause.
Mr. Obama is scheduled to give the commencement address next week at Barnard College in New York City, where he will receive a medal along with Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a leading advocate for same-sex unions. Mr. Wolfson, who had written that he would “whisper in the president’s ear” to support same-sex marriage, said in an interview on Wednesday, “I’m going to shout, ‘Thank you!’ ”
Also on Monday, Mr. Obama is to speak at a campaign fund-raiser for gay rights supporters. And on June 6, he is to return to Los Angeles to speak at a gala benefiting the gay, bisexual and transgender community.” –Jeff Zelen, New York Times.
This, of course, raises speculation that Obama is announcing his newly evolved stance specifically to avoid having to dodge questions on the subject or otherwise avoid the issue, as well as an attempt to galvanise his support in the run up to the US election. On the other hand, does it matter? One of the goals of the marriage equality movement has always been to get enough support for equality that it became politically viable for politicans to endorse change–preferably that it became untenable for them to oppose it, especially in a democracy. Whatever the cause of the change, Barack Obama has decided it is politically beneficial for him to do the right thing and support marriage equality, or at the very least, it is no longer politically disadvantageous to do so. This is a good thing.
So sparkly rainbow unicorns aside, I would like like you all to join me in saying ‘Thank You’ to Barack Obama, and showing all world leaders that there is global support for Marriage Equality. AllOut.org would like to send the world’s biggest thank you card to Obama on Friday (US time), and they need your signature (digital or otherwise) on it. To sign the card, just click here, and in the lead up to International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), say thanks to those polticians who are brave enough to get up and make a stand for equality, and showing a commitment to enabling all human beings to be free and equal in dignity and rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.