May 10th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

What do Obama's same-sex marriage views mean moving forward?

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, an interesting piece by  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."

[Updated at 11:47 a.m. ET] Multiple top Democrats said Thursday the president's senior aides are deeply annoyed with Vice President Joe Biden for forcing the conversation on same-sex marriage. One source said Biden has, in the past, counseled the president against announcing support for same-sex marriage - making the circumstances that much more frustrating.

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 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.

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[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."

soundoff (1,216 Responses)
  1. netwallwarrior

    I can no longer support the President. I find it sad that he's turned out to be a typical politician. Expediency for political gain, and opportunism. Mitt Romney is an even bigger joke on the American people. Unfortunately, we're in such a precarious situation I'm stuck with one recourse I can only pray for the country. It's a sad day in America. Be careful for what you ask just may get it. History is a perfect indicator of future events. We have thousands of years of historical data, and while the new natural may be new in todays terms, there's nothing new under the sun. There are those that are re-engineering society for their own greed and ambitions. One day every knee will bow, and confess that our way wasn't correct. We have a choice we can continue on this path of destruction or we can make a choice to accept that God is, and he lived to teach us his truth. We all have a choice... Choose wisely... The future of this country depends on wise mature people, and your eternal life depends on it.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • coorslight


      May 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "History is a perfect indicator of future events. We have thousands of years of historical data"


      May 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • quieteye

      netwallwarrio – a typical politician would not say something known to be so unpopular with the masses. It actually appears "wise and mature" – something most citizens are not when they prefer to believe only what supports their beliefs and not facts shown to contradict them.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Foregone Conclusion

    I have always believed that monogamy with another person is always the way to go. When two people are truly in love and fully commit to one another through marriage the possibility of promiscuity becomes greatly minimized.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TheChosenOne

    Get ready for the lights to go out!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    To be equil is to be the same- so as the rest of us to equil is to marrie as we have ,man with woman are woman with man. Why is it so hard to understand .

    May 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sy2502

    One thing you can always count on is the bigoted right foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs at this announcement. I expected it and was not disappointed.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Thinks2010

    Legal recognition of the union of same-s3x couples whether it is through the religious rite of marriage and a state granted civil union would be a boost to the wedding industry and create jobs across numerous industries. More celebrations means more jobs.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephanie

    Go Obama! All who pay taxes should have all the same rights! Any why are these people blaming Obama for the economy.. were they awake when G.W.Bush was in the White House?? HELLO

    May 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazyvermont

      we were also awake when Obama tool us from Triple A rating for first time in history......Hello!!!!!!

      May 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. quieteye

    Leslie – Quit giving that "born this way" theory/excuse which has been studied for MANY years and was found that people are NOT born this way but it is a CHOICE! The biggest lie of the gay/lesbian movement to excuse their inexcusable behavior.

    Leslie – As noted elsewhere, see references to Jane Goodall – she may rock your world.

    PS: You sound way too sure of yourself!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazyvermont

      Just an wife in medical field of genetic and no such agreement that people are born gay. I know that's popular with media types and those with agendas, but just not true

      May 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      "Leslie – Quit giving that "born this way" theory/excuse which has been studied for MANY years and was found that people are NOT born this way but it is a CHOICE! "

      Being gay is not a choice science in fact is actually not in dispute on this matter.

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

      In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

      But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

      This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ellis

      Eric – why would it matter if it's a choice of not? Either way, I don't see why they can't have the same legal rights as other human beings. I never understand this debate. It has no place in a discussion about laws. If you want to convert gays, that's a different topic. It's whether they have the legal rights of other Americans that we're discussing.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. YeahRight

    "Too bad our President sided with immorality instead of Christian Values"

    LMAO – No he is siding with the science. DUH. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    May 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sam2222

    Obama will do anything to get re-elected!!
    Isn't amazing that he has made a decision on anything for the past 3 years, and now he's playing for all the votes he can get.

    Everyone can see it. No record to run on, so he's grabbing headlines for anything he can.

    4 years is too many!!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Who cares if he timed this announcement for political gain, it is still the right decision.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Some Guy

      Any president who is up for reelection does that, grabbing headlines when they can. They don't have the same amount of time to go out and campaign like their opponent. Republican/Democrat, they always do the se thing so I don't see your point.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      you dont think he already had the gay vote?
      you dont think he will lose more than he will gain and knew that before he said it?

      May 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Recovering Republican

    Amazing how Obama is turning out to be one of America's bravest President's. Romney is a flip-floping fool, who jsut floats with the tide, like most "businessmen". Romney will be in favor reinstating slavery if the GOP faithfull chooses to want it. Kudos Mr. President. I was on the fence, but you just earned my vote.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. juniorbarnes

    Ok, I just don’t see why or how this is an "issue"? We as a nation have so much more to worry about then if two dudes or two chicks can get a marriage license or not. Who cares, what does it matter and how does it affect ANYONE else but the two people entering into that marriage?! EVERY person in this country should have equal rights – the right to vote, the right to marry and so on. If you don’t like gays, don’t be friends with them. If you don’t like blacks, don’t be friends with them. If you don’t like Mexicans, don’t be friends with them. But no matter, its none of any one’s business what your neighbor does, just as long as it doesn’t affect you immediately and directly. I promise EVERYONE here, if every gay couple could get married "legally" next week, no one would see one change in their way of living, quality of live or the future of our country. Not one iota. So I say if you want to tap swords as Husband and Husband or if you want to rub beavers as wife and wife, go for it.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheChosenOne

      It is something to worry about because it brings Evil and Wickedness to the county you live in. God didn't pick and chose a few people in Sodom to destroy he destroyed the whole city.. America is going to fall.. things will not get better here they are only going to get worse..

      May 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      @TheChosenOne–If God were striking down countries because of evil and wickedness, there wouldn't be one left on earth.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Boils Down To

    It's amazing how these evangelical Christians who swear allegiance to very Christian ways, upbringing, and Scripture are cowering down and endorsing a Mormon! Does it boil down to politics over their strong religious beliefs? Well, it sure appears that way as I can't see how it could come any closer. It's a sure Sell-Out of politics over religion for many in this presidential race!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. common sense

    Not enough gay people to matter, so why waste time on this issue ?

    May 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ryan

    Too bad we live in a free country where we can believe what we want without fear of the government telling up otherwise. Yet for some reason some people want the government to do that.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
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