Votes Dictate Stance on Gay Marriage

Rachael Oczkus, Entertainment Editor

With the upcoming presidential election fast approaching, our country’s politicians are polishing their official platforms, closing any loopholes and clarifying all the details. Today, the issue of gay rights proves to be tricky for many candidates, as it exposes both their background and belief systems. Creating a stance on gay rights that has universal appeal is daunting if not impossible.

President Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage would seem to be obvious. He has shown extensive support to the gay community since his 2008 election, even repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
However, despite speculation that Obama endorses equality for gay and lesbian couples, the president has yet to come forward with a formal platform on the issue. As of now, the president claims that his stance is “evolving.”

However, in 1996, Obama responded to a series of questions from a gay newspaper with pro-gay-marriage sentiments. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,” said Obama, “and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

Even the president’s own religious affiliations hint at his support for same-sex marriages. Although the black community traditionally looks down on same-sex marriage, Obama’s church in Illinois took no stance on the issue, while the parent church remains progressive.

However, in the 2008 election, Obama backpedaled and supported a less controversial stance. He did oppose same-sex marriages, but also a constitutional ban on gay marriage. He supported full civil unions, giving same-sex couples “equal legal rights and privileges as married couples.”

Since Obama already offered full support for civil unions and opposed a constitutional ban why can’t he take one small step further to publicly support same-sex marriage?

His indecision likely revolves around the voters. In the political arena, votes are everything. By remaining neutral, Obama saves himself from those who would pin him as too liberal.

However, perhaps the need for a formal statement of support is overplayed. His past record concerning the gay community prove that his “evolving” stance on same-sex marriage has already evolved.

Strategically, Obama might not want to budge which is understandable. The importance of a simple statement in this case is irrelevant. After all, his actions speak louder than his words.

Obama supported both the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense for Marriage Act, which officially defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

He even issued a Presidential memorandum ensuring the compassion of hospitals to gay and lesbian patients receiving Medicare and Medicaid, as well as another memorandum widening federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees.

As long as Obama continues to support pro-gay-rights legislation, his stance doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that he has to take the side where the votes lie.

The gay community will support Obama regardless of whether he adopts a pro-gay-rights platform. His previous legislation passed during his presidency and long standing support for equal rights matter far more.

If Obama wishes to stick to his favorite political tactic of compromise, he will remain neutral. In a perfect world, Obama would publicize his support for his gay and lesbian friends before the next election, but that’s probably not the case this time.