Obama’s Marriage Stance Not Good Enough

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By Dana Burd

In 2008 all four major candidates for president and vice-president were opposed to same-sex marriage. The Republican platform supported a ban on same-sex marriage on a federal level.

This year, support for the Freedom to Marry has been on the rise and the Democrats: Say I Do campaign, is aiming to add support for gay marriage to the Democrat’s 2012 platform to “oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.”

The aim of Say I Do is to add to the 2012 Democratic platform to “oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.”

In an April press-release, Freedom to Marry reported former DNC Chairs Dean, Fowler, Grossman and Wilhelm, 22 Democratic Senators, Chair of this year’s Democratic National Convention Villaraigosa, House Minority Leader Pelosi and several of President Barack Obama’s national campaign co-chairs have all supported the campaign.

The release also sites a May 2011 Gallup poll which reported 69 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Independents and 53 percent of all Americans support the freedom to marry; and a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also shows that Democrats and Independents are more likely to support a candidate in favor of the freedom to marry (D: 39% to 9%, I: 22% to 11%).

“The support from members of Congress running for state-wide office in swing states shows that there is nothing to fear in being on the right side of history,” said founder and President of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, “happily, support for the freedom to marry is not just the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do politically.”

With the shift towards marriage equality in high gears and Obama stating it is his personal opinion that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, what could possibly stand in the way of full support from the Democratic party?

In a recent interview “The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.”

The problem with this is that equality is not a state by state issue, and if determined at the state level, unconstitutional and discriminatory laws will continue to establish. Currently, marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in at least 42 states, 31 states have added amendments banning same-sex unions (repealed or not) to their constitutions, and only eight states recognize or will soon recognize same-sex marriages.

As a Californian Democrat, I remember clearly the the 2008 passing of Proposition 8, which eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry. In a self-boasting progressive state where only 30% of voting Democrats supported Prop 8, it still managed to pass with 52.24% of all votes.

Cut ahead to February 7, 2012 and a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a 2–1 majority opinion affirming the previous judgment in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, declaring Proposition 8 violated the Equal Protection Clause and was deemed unconstitutional. There is no reason to subject each state to this process.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney was among the first to sign the National Organization for Marriage presidential pledge which promises candidates will support a federal amendment preventing same-sex marriage and defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, leading to NOM’s endorsement of Romney for president.

“President Obama has declared our nation’s marriage laws to be unconstitutional and not only has refused to defend them, his administration is actively working to repeal them in the courts. He’s come out against state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And he has appointed leaders of the same-sex ‘marriage’ movement as national co-chairs of his reelection campaign,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “Incredibly, Obama still apparently claims to personally support traditional marriage. With friends like President Obama, the institution of marriage doesn’t need enemies.”

The current Democratic platform supports civil unions, but takes no official stance on gay marriage, stating a committed to, “ensuring civil unions and equal federal rights for LGBT couples.”

It’s time for Obama to take a strong stance, with no cop-outs to state authority and support the popular opinion of his party. Even though it’s believed that social issues will not determine the outcome of the 2012 election, it’s time for national marriage equality. The official 2012 platform will be ratified at the national convention in September, and if added, this plank would indicate the first time a major political party platform has embraced marriage equality.

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