President Obama's announcement that he now supports same-sex marriage has sparked a global discussion about the issue and what his statements mean for politics and the upcoming election, cultural views, the economy and public perception. There has been a running dialogue as politicians, public figures and others weigh in on the meaning of Obama's announcement.
We'll bring you all of that throughout the day with the latest strands of this story. Let us know what you think about the announcement by having your voice heard on iReport, and leave us your comments below. We'll dig through them and pull out some of the best comments from you as well.
[Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET] Over at Slate.com, an interesting piece by Linda Hirshman points out "Why Obama is able to endorse gay marriage in a way a white Democratic president couldn’t."
The article takes a look at the long history of presidents and figures who have made claims about trying to help the gay community, but never got traction or were told to shy away from it. Hirshman also issues a reminder: It was Colin Powell who actually slammed then-President Bill Clinton's attempts to repeal the exclusion of gays in the military. At the time Powell said gays couldn't use racial bias as a reason to rise up against the expulsion.
But these days, race and sexuality have been large parts of America's changing winds when it comes to equality.
So what's changed? And why Obama? And does it really help or hurt if he's black? Hirshman says yes, history and racial issues led our first black president to a place where he was able to make this statement in a profound way.
"A simple thought experiment reveals the issue: Try to imagine Don King in black churches exhorting congregations to vote against Barack Obama over gay marriage. Not going to happen," she writes. "In this way, the president was uniquely suited among Democratic politicians to advance the issue (just as Powell could have done in 1993). Until today, Obama’s mealy-mouthed and harmful public statements on gay marriage looked suspiciously Powell-esque. But as happens now and then to Barack Obama, history gave him an opportunity no one else could seize, and he did."
Another source said the recent events gave renewed life to old jokes and flippant remarks like, "Hello? Does he know this is the Obama presidency not the Biden presidency?"
None of these sources said they believed it would create a lasting rift between the West Wing and the vice president's office – because Biden has gone off script before and will do it again.
[Updated at 11:39 a.m. ET] Some columnists and voters have said everyone needs to hold off on the congratulations for Obama. After all, they say, he merely made his viewpoint heard but isn't actually doing anything to change equality for members of the LGBT community. Many are pushing for him to go even further than just saying what he personally supports.
Ben Adler, writing for Reuters, says that if Obama really wants to do something for the LGBT community he should push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA would essentially ban discrimination in the workplace based on your sexual orientation.
"If Obama gave a campaign speech in which he called on Congress to pass ENDA and demanded that Romney do the same, he would stick Romney between a rock and a hard place," he wrote.
[Updated at 11:19 a.m. ET] The pundits have had plenty to say following Obama's announcement. And it spurred a slew of statements from politicians and conservative and liberal groups.
But one of the biggest movements came in the social media world where everyday people around the world, politicians and celebrities let it rip in 140 characters about how they felt.
It is perhaps a quick way to check the pulse of the public's view of Obama's announcement. Here are some of the best, funniest, most poignant or interest tweets we've seen.
We stand w/Pres. Obama - love doesn't have a color, love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate #MarriageEquality— Antonio Villaraigosa (@villaraigosa) May 09, 2012
We stand w/Pres. Obama - love doesn't have a color, love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate #MarriageEquality
It's still the economy, and we're not stupid RT @nikkibama More importantly #TeamMittens, go after Obama on economic issues!!!!!!!!!!— Joseph (@Joseph_MSU) May 10, 2012
It's still the economy, and we're not stupid RT @nikkibama More importantly #TeamMittens, go after Obama on economic issues!!!!!!!!!!
Those against gay marriage: in 20 yrs you'll be the villains in an Oscar-nominated movie about the gay rights struggle. Just an FYI.— Devin Faraci (@devincf) May 10, 2012
Those against gay marriage: in 20 yrs you'll be the villains in an Oscar-nominated movie about the gay rights struggle. Just an FYI.
Flip-flopping is when you change positions for clear and obvious political expediency. Like Obama on drilling or Romney on everything.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) May 10, 2012
Flip-flopping is when you change positions for clear and obvious political expediency. Like Obama on drilling or Romney on everything.
Feels to me that today, Obama became the president America elected three years ago.— Othman Laraki (@othman) May 10, 2012
Feels to me that today, Obama became the president America elected three years ago.
We would also be remiss if we didn't point out how quickly after Obama's announcement a new Tumblr popped up. Following on the success of several other blogs filled with gifs and photos such as TextFromHillary, right after Obama's statement that he supported same-sex marriage a new one came to fill the void left by the faux texts of Secretary Clinton: When Obama Endorsed Marriage Equality.
[Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET] Will Obama's support for same-sex marriage swing the election towards social issues? It's hard to say. The election cycle has been mostly dominated by a frustration among Americans with the current state of the economy. With the number of unemployed people still at a rate deemed unacceptable and with homeowners still struggling to unload homes often worth markedly less than years ago, it is no doubt it's considered the number one issue in this race to the White House by most voters and our poll of readers.
But LZ Granderson wonders whether Mitt Romney will take Obama's statement as a chance to turn the tide against the current president.
"Remember, Republicans characterized the war on women as a Democratic strategy to divert attention from the "real issue" of the economy," Granderson wrote. "Over the next couple of days we'll see if the GOP will be as dismissive with gay rights. Or will the fact that in 2004, George W. Bush successfully used discrimination against the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender (GLBT) community to motivate his base be too juicy a strategy for Romney and the gang to pass up?"
Granderson argues that Obama's move separates him from Romney in the biggest way - his conviction - and moves him into the class of an Abraham Lincoln, FDR, John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson in the realm of presidents:
"Men who risked a great deal personally to move the country forward socially," Granderson wrote. "And given the fact that he can point to the 12 consecutive months of job losses before taking office and the 26 consecutive months (and counting) of job growth since 2010, there's no reason to believe the economy will cease to be his campaign's top focus. As it should be. We'll find out if the GOP agrees."
[Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET] President Obama's election was in large part boosted by the youth vote as well as from African-Americans who went to the polls hoping to see the first black president elected. But when it comes to same-sex marriage, the African-American community is a divided one. And Time contributor Touré, author of "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness? A Look At What It Means To Be Black Now," wonders whether this most recent announcement could damage Obama's allure in the South, in heavily religious states and with black Americans.
"With blacks lagging behind the country on marriage equality but still a crucial bloc for Obama, the White House has made a courageous bet that black voters won’t punish him and that being on the right side of history will not eventually hurt him," Touré wrote. "Obama has seemed to want to overtly support marriage equality for a while — a year ago he said gays 'are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our coworkers, and they’ve got to be treated like every other American. … I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and — and I think that’s a good thing.' ”
Touré wonders whether Obama will be able to pull off the delicate balancing act of trying to be a president who follows his beliefs instead of doing things that ensure his re-election.
"Does it mean Obama would rather stand on principle and lose than be a politician and win? Or perhaps he sees this as part of a victory strategy that rebrands himself as the courageous politician who will take hard stands and will stand up for the people," he wrote.
[Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET] Many of our iReporters and commenters have had strong reactions to Obama's announcement. We posed the question to iReporters: What would you say to Obama about his remarks?
John Richardson said he was thankful for Obama "coming out of the closet" for gay Americans. But he questioned Obama's statements that same-sex marriage is ultimately a states' rights issue over a civil rights one.
He referenced North Carolina's recent vote to ban same-sex marriage and wondered what Obama's comments meant to a gay couple in North Carolina.
"They didn't decide to be gay, and they definitely didn't decide to be born in North Carolina. In my opinion, leaving it to the states to decide forces the gay community to choose between the lesser of two evils: leaving your home or leaving your principles."
Richardson said this could be the biggest move Obama makes if he does it correctly.
"You have the opportunity here to take a historically profound stance," he said. "You could be the president that brought equality to all."
Richardson brings up an interesting point about states' rights. Many have varying view points on same-sex marriage as well as civil unions. CNN's Tom Foreman breaks down what each state's laws are.
[Updated at 9:56 a.m. ET] The reach of Obama's announcement has gone much farther than just the United States. The issue of same-sex marriage is one that reaches global proportions as well, and in some cases, Obama's words have led campaigners to push for marriage equality worldwide.
Obama's decision to openly endorse same-sex marriage won plaudits from campaigners worldwide who have been pushing for more liberal laws since the first same-sex couples walked down the aisle in the Netherlands in 2001.
CNN photos: 'Commitment' project focuses on long-term gay couples
[Updated at 9:36 a.m. ET] Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review, wrote in a column for CNN that Obama's endorsement does not undo the fact that he has a mixed record on gay rights. It's a problem that has led the gay community has derided him for his "cowardice" on gay issues, she says.
Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, and author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television," said that how Obama's move plays with the gay community may depend on whether he has the actions to back up his words. While Obama's team deserves credit for the political maneuver, she said, there's plenty of federal discrimination that has to end.
"Obama's claims that he cares about equality for gays have not seemed sincere. Now that he has emphatically stated that same-sex marriage should be legal, he ought to make passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act a priority," Ghitis writes. "He should take a stand personally, not through press releases and spokesmen, against discrimination. He should support the bill that calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Now he should follow up his landmark statement with actions that will have practical, not just symbolic impact.
"And while that will go a long way, this race is a marathon, not a sprint," she says.
"The decision to at long last finish the evolution and come out in support of gay marriage is a major step. But, Mr. President, when it comes to fighting discrimination, there are principles to defend, promises to keep and miles to go before you sleep."
[Updated at 9:26 a.m. ET] Benefits, benefits. benefits. One of the big issues at the heart of the same-sex marriage debate has often been the inequality not just to get married but to get the benefits to go along with it. Will any of that change after Obama's announcement?
CNNMoney's Blake Ellis reports that advocates are hopeful that Obama's decision will bring gay couples one step closer to equal treatment on taxes, Social Security and other important financial matters.
His decision, advocates said, could help spur support for the eventual repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that reserves marriage for a man and a woman.
The law, known as DOMA, is at the root of differences in how gay couples are treated under federal law.
"Just because the president comes out and stands on the right side of history doesn't mean Congress will move faster" to repeal DOMA, said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "But this will go far to raise the visibility of the economic inequities of same-sex couples."
[Updated at 9:16 a.m. ET] Charles Kaiser, author of "The Gay Metropolis" and "1968 in America," wrote in a column for CNN that he believes giving support to same-sex marriage is Obama's most courageous move yet.
Kaiser, a former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and a former press critic for Newsweek, said his stance on gay rights has an effect similar to Civil Rights Act.
"Coming after his successful strategy to get Congress to repeal don't ask, don't tell so that gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military and the decision of his Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts, he has now done nearly as much for gay people as Lyndon Johnson did for African-Americans with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965," he wrote. "People like me, who were among his most passionate supporters in 2008, felt a sense of gigantic relief. The man who seemed like such a courageous candidate four years ago finally sounded like a genuinely courageous president."
[Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET] Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday outraged conservative Christian leaders, who vowed to use it as an organizing tool in the 2012 elections, but the move is also activating the liberal base, raising big questions about who gains and loses politically.
“It cuts both ways: It activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,” said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. “The most likely effect is that it makes an already close election even closer.”
While social issues may not turn the election, it certainly will influence voters.
CNN's Belief Blog takes a look at how the move might galvanize conservatives and those who are against same-sex marriage to help Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but it could also help Obama gain critical support from those who see the cultural landscape changing and agree with his views.
[Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET] Let's talk about the elephant in the room. It's an election year. Many pundits and members have questioning how much of Obama's statement was a political move to gain ground on Mitt Romney? And what does the likely GOP presidential nominee think about all of this?
After Obama's announcement, Romney reaffirmed his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. The presumptive GOP nominee said he believed states should have the ability to extend some rights to gay couples, short of marriage.
[Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET] Much of the early focus has been on Obama's changing views on same-sex marriage. Have his views changed or "evolved"? Is he flip-flopping on the issue? When did he make the decision to make his viewpoint heard? How has he felt about the issue in the past? And why did he decide to say something now?
To help put things in perspective, there's no better way than looking at the very words Obama has used over the past few years.
[Updated at 8:52 a.m. ET] President Barack Obama's announcement that he now supports same-sex marriage came sooner than planned as a result of comments made by Vice President Joe Biden, he said in an interview broadcast Thursday.
"I had already made a decision that we were going to probably take this position before the election and before the convention," Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America," referring to the Democratic National Convention in September.
Biden "probably got out a little bit over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit," the president said.
He added that he would have "preferred to have done this in my own way, on my own terms," but "all's well that ends well."
Quick, someone grab some scripture to justify our hate...
I assure you I am not a sick individual. I'm proud to be a WHOLE person with a great education, a great career, a wonderful and loving family and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. But then again, what would you know? You're not in a position to even know what it's like since it's clear you are straight. Thanks for the ignorance though you biggot. We are not disabled and unable to function in society like you seem to think.
There is nothing wrong with you? You must be perfect. Congrats, you are the first human being to be that way :)
Christian values? "Love your neighbor as you love yourself". I don’t recall Christ ever quoting Leviticus, and if we were to use those laws, we’d be killing every disobedient person. The gospels are full of love, compassion, and forgiveness. I think we all need to reread what Christian Values are.
Love doesn't mean you have to agree with everything someone does. That would be hypocrissy. How many times have your mother, father or wife disagreed with you?
Actually, most of Christ's quotes on laws came straight from Leviticus. "Love your neighbor' is Lev 19:18, for example.
Is it possible I disagree with both sides.?
I don't think the government should be involved in marriage at all. It is a religious ceremony and freedom of religion would preclude government involvement.
it is not infringing on anybody rights for religious people to practice their religion and since religion invented marriage as a bonding of man and wormen thats is how is should be defined simply as intelectual property.
@Scott...what religion invented marriage. I think you need to do a little research on this.
Amen to that, Scott. Politics should have no room for religion. However, I think Obama was pulled into the issue because every other politician is making it an issue. He was pressured into making a statement, and he doesn't seem to be doing anything beyond that. If there's a way to respond to this issue, I think that's a pretty fair way.
But Scott, that would be LOGICAL, and we can't have that!
I respectfully submit this response:
Religion is the belief in or worship of something. Regardless of man's thoughts or opinion, truth exists. There is only one truth in this matter. That truth is that there is a Creator, and He created man in His own image, male and female He created them. A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.
Regardless of whether you or I believe this, God created marriage, not religion.
since when? marriage is a civil service. I have been married for 19 years and it was not done at a church or minister (even though the Catholic church does not recognize it because I do not beleieve in the Catholic church)
To Jun: You are using the word "truth" in a very strange way.
This whole debate is frankly out of hand. For those of you who complain he should be creating jobs and fixing the economy – it's just a statement on an issue, it's not like he is out there fighting for legislation. His effort is not in creating national gay marriage acceptance – he is still focused on the economy and jobs. Finally when it comes to the polls in November people are not voting on gay marriage they are voting on the economy – there is only a very small proportion of this country that will vote in terms of gay marriage stance alone.
On to you religious folks and people saying America was founded on morals and gay marriage is just wrong. America was founded on morals; it was also founded on slavery. George Washington was one of the largest slaveholders. On top of this the bible mentions slavery. So with your arguments are you then saying slavery is okay? Maybe we shouldn't let blacks marry either. NO! No one in their right mind would say this in America today. Granted I know gay Americans have many more rights than slaves did and I in no way mean that they have it as bad. But the comments on this story are very similar to ones issued against blacks in the early history of our country. They are "disgusting" and you "don't want to see them" – no fellow Americans you are the disgusting ones and I don't want to see you. Your kids or grandkids will say someday they can't believe how long it took for gays to get equal rights – I for one will tell them it was people like you keeping them from obtaining it.
All this being said no I am not gay and no I don't support Obama – I actually can't stand the guy but why should we start bashing a politician that gives his opinion? Isn't that what we elect them to do? We elected Obama because we believed in his ability to make choices. His choice is to support gay marriage. Deal with it.
I find it curious that there is no discussion of the issue. Whether it is right or wrong for gays to marry? and explaining the views of each side. The fundamental problem with getting these issues resolved, i find, is the lack of debate. What are the merits of either side? I appreciate the individuals right to decide their own opinion, but believing the world is flat doesn't make it valid, and letting either side yell at each other like the British Parliament is fun to watch. Finally letting them yell at each other in person is far more respectable and upstanding then doing it over the media.
Mr. President: Do not forget the US Church gave you a great opportunity to become president. Now you turn your back to our beliefs and support this small group of voters? We need a president who bring back this Country to God. Did you asked God about His comment on your speech? Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion . . . (Gen. 1:26-28) God bless America and has mercy on you.
Where is this US Church you pray at? How do I become a member? Seriously?
"and fill the earth"
How filled is full?
I see what you mean. Not sure what this country would be like if EVERYBODY had the same rights and opportunities.
Discrimination is the very fabric of the "american way".
I hope this move encourages young adults to vote! It certainly confirms my vote for Obama2012. I wholly subscribe to the equal rights movement we are STILL having to pursue. Think progressively, America.
Thinking progressively is redundant. Only Progressives think at all – or at least that's what I've gleaned from this debate.
If you choose to be gay, then go be gay. It is your choice. But stop trying to force everyone else to belief that it is a normal, natural thing. And please, stop trying to twist what the bible says to try to justify your lifestyle.
you're doing the same thing...just from the other direction.
It has been scientifically proven by multiple studies that people are born gay, and it's not a choice. And I request of you to stop twisting scripture to fit YOUR life as well.
Did you CHOOSE to be straight?
Ok, then, it's the same way for those who are gay - it's not a choice, it is who you are attracted to and in love with. You don't decide.... Oh, I think I'll CHOOSE to be attracted to that girl over there.
People who label being gay as a "choice" obviously don't know anyone that is gay. It's really sad that there are so many people in this country that don't get out of their tiny little bubbles – the world is evolving quickly folks. If any of you ever have a child that is gay would you really want them to be denied the right to marry? It's easy to throw stones when it doesn't affect you directly.
I really could care less what the government thinks about the "issue" of it all. Last I checked a human being is a human being. While I have my own opinion about it ( which, by the way, I have the RIGHT to), I find it funny that NOW that Obama is scrambling to get his campaign funds in order, NOW he makes this bold statement. Here is my question, Mr. Obama: Why now? Why is this important to say now? Why couldn't you have said this when you were accepting the job four years ago? I mean, it's liberty and justice for all, right?
My family and extended family has always been split amongst Democrat and Republican lines, but yesterday's comments from President Obama will have many of those Democrats (some of which have held public office running on a Democrat ticket) voting Republican for the very first time later this year.
So very sad!! Although I'm an Indepedent I always though Democrats were progressive in their thinking – maybe those in your family aren't really Dems afterall.
I voted for Obama in 2008, and I will cast my ballot even more proudly in 2012 now that he has taken a stand for equality in the face of prejudice. I am certain that history and God will not judge those who oppose gay marriage kindly. I find it ridiculous that there are people who actually believe 1) that gay people entering into loving marriages in any way devalues or impacts their own straight marriages; and 2) that Jesus would sanction this kind of hateful discrimination. Gay marriage is not harming anyone. There is no reason to oppose it other than cruelty and ignorance.
Gay marriage is harming people. That's why it IS loving to oppose it. Do some research on the percentage of divorces in gay marriages within the first year of it's legalization in some states. Also, the diseases that are spread among gays because of gay behaviors are also harmful to gays. Besides the plain and simple fact that the parts do not EVER work this way to create a family of which the building block is marriage. Is it loving to affirm that it does?
It's not about religion! It's about equality under the law. The church and the conservatives should stop making this a religious issue. IT IS NOT! It is about equal benefits and equal status on both federal and state levels whether you're a male-female, male-male or female-female couple!
It is about GOD!!!! And us following his laws. This country and society has been over taken by Satan, but Satan knows his time is coming to a end so he is trying to gather everybody he can so that they can go down with him.. This is an abomination and deliberate act against God. We have been told how we are to live here on Earth and people still don't listen. The Time is Near!!! It's coming if you believe it our not!! Look around you!! Everything Jesus told us is coming true...Rumors of war, earthquakes in diverse places, labor pains, famines, signs in the sun and the moon.. ITS COMING!!! People need to REPENT (Change their ways) and PRAY!!!!! Forgive and Love!! LPRF!!!! If you believe it or not JESUS IS COMING!! YESHUA IS ON HIS WAY!!! Who will stand for and with Jesus??? Time is short!! Accept Christ as your Savior and Lord!! Turn away from this wickedness and let the Light in!!
America becomes more and more wickeder every day. This is from our Lord, our Father God. He clearly told us "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you" This country is in for it.. The labor pains are increasing!!! So many go against and his word..
You choose the cross before the flag. I understand.
I am an American first, you choose your religion first.
"America becomes more and more wickeder every day. This is from our Lord, our Father God. He clearly told us "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you" This country is in for it.. The labor pains are increasing!!! So many go against and his word.."
So you are trying to use Leviticus? LOL! Christians don't abide by it because it's part of the holy code. It also states in Leviticus that you have to stone your children to death if they talk back to you. That a woman has to marry her rapist. Only prejudice people cherry pick like this.
Equal is not equality if it is sometimes.
Share this if you believe that people should take god out of politics and stop oppressing GLBT people. Share this if you believe that people shouldn't even care because it doesn't concern their rights. And most of all, share this if you hope to one day to grow up and marry the person that you love the most regardless of who they are.
America is in for a heck of a Ride!!! This country keeps pushing God away.. Well I want God in my life and i want him here.. Without God we are nothing!!!
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