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 Slate.com, 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.

[nn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/05/09/tsr-foreman-same-sex-marriage-state-breakdown.cnn"%5D

[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. Mooresville

    Why do so many people care what others do with their lives? Why are we having this conversation and wasting money and time fighting this? Just let people live the way THEY choose. What does it hurt ANYONE if a gay couple wants to get married? I know it does not effect my life AT ALL, after all it is THEIR life.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. why

    Obama knows it is wrong,but he wants his job more than what is right!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. areacode612

    Every person that is not in cyber world being silent is against it. This country is turning into a toilet. No morals, no values, no pride.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • JPJ3016

      I'm not gay, but how exactly is two men or two women that are committed to each other getting married destroying your life?

      May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JPJ3016

    Prove either one existed.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Colin Gough

    Junior, I didn't see you reference the NDAA... your comment please? I know you watched the video... so you are saying, that Ron Paul is an old wack job, awesome... so you think the NDAA is good? I mean he voted against...

    Give me 2 reasons you think Ron Paul is an 'old wack job' i mean no one can disagree with any policy of his except foreign policy, and that's because ppl don't actually understand it, which is why they try to 'shun him' the media makes sure he doesn't get time cause people will know what he stands for...

    Liberty, and the rights of the individual... do you want the government with the ability to determine what you do in your life.... Government should protect us, not DICTATE us...

    Read the NDAA and think about it, then think abt the Arizona law, and other laws, and think... what is the the difference, but because OBAMA supported NDAA no one wants to talk abt it... its fascinating...

    May 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dkny

    The Snopes web site says it is very unlikely that Stalin ever spoke these words. Can you verify when and where he wrote or said this?

    May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The Difference

    All those folks who are now thinking of voting from Romney because President Obama is for Gay marriage better Think Again! If they are all independently wealthy, they can certainly vote for Romney as he would surely help them. But if they are in the Middle-Class, are Retired, are Elderly, are Minorities, are Women, or are Poor they Need Obama in 2012 in order to Get Ahead! This Gay marriage thing is only one small facet of the whole pie. The majority of the American pie consists of receiving the benefits that President Obama has been helping all those aforementioned groups with and will Continue to help them with in his second term! That is why good-thinking, level-headed people need to think clearly about WHO is going to help them in the long run as president. It surely won't be Romney who is Only For the Rich. It will ultimately be President Obama who truly cares about you and will continue to help you get what's yours! Obama/Biden 2012!!

    May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Give me a break!

      First, do you really think Obama cares about you or any lower/middle class???? He is a person just like you and me that want power and money in life just like you and me!!! Hence why he is acting like Romney now and flip flopping his views on this because he wants VOTES!!! Second, why should the rich be punished for working their tails off to get where they are???? Dems fews on society seem to lean toward, you don't have to work hard in life the government will just transfer the money from the people that did. THAT IS A JOKE!!!!! This is the problem in society right now you don't have to WORK in life, everything should come easy!!! I think we should have a flat tax, 15 maybe 20 percent, the number is not a my point, my point is if we have a flat tax the rich will pay more because they make more PERIOD!!! Why should someone have to support others in society!!! There should be some safety nets like unemployment benefits, medicare, social security, etc but that is much different than higher taxes for the hard working! I am not rich either by the way, I make less then 6 figures a year! But I want to work my butt off so I can be rich someday! If society keeps going the way it is why would I??? This distribute the wealth thought process harms society as a whole, it discourages hard work and innovation!!!! GO GET A JOB and WORK HARD, maybe you will actually make some money! I go to school, work full time (45-50 hours a week) and support a family of four, all on my own!!!!! It sucks but will pay off someday!

      May 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Theres the issue right there Give me a break!
      You make a statement about people moaning about the rich but then go on to label those that do as all being lazy unemployed welfare junkies despite you then going on to state how you arent rich but work hard.
      If you want an intelligent doscussion then people like you need to stop labelling the poor as being that way because they dont work hard.

      May 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      i am middle class, it will be the middle class and poor who suffer having to pay back 6 trillion dollars under Obama in 3 yeas. Bush did not do that in 8!

      Obama is sinking the ship! This issue of gays his his only way to change the topic from his failures. Yes we can't!

      May 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      Here is what is so funny about this So many people think that Obama is for the middle class. Let me ask you this, how is that working for us. The only way to get out of this crisis is to create more jobs, how are we going to do that if everytime a Entrepreuner opens a new buisness and creates jobs he gets taxed more that the people that are just skating by. I am sorry but Obama is just nothing but a people pleaser, how about we actually put someone in there that will fix and help us instead of try and please us.

      May 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Give me a break!

      Cedar Rapids....I understand not all welfare recipient are lazy but most are! Every person I have known on welfare (dozens over my life) were simply lazy!!!!! I never said a word about junkies by the way, you just hear what you want to hear! I said we need stuff like unemployment etc because not all are lazy but I would bet that 90% of the long term welfare recipients are LAZY!!!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. willie

    What are you talking about? I don't see any adam or Eve, neither a Steve.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    It is apparent that Mr. Obama will say or do anything do get any body out there to vote for him and he will continue to try to entice voters by doing just what he has to to get that vote. If that means more scare tactics and tactics to divide the American people he will continue to do so. "Barrelling Forward" is Obama's style. No due diligence to any matter incuding the selection of the inept and corrupt persons around him, no budget, lead from behind, more campaining than the last three presidents combined in one term, etc.... Please let us look at his record and hold him accountable. I would not have this guy lead our sales staff simply because he is not a leader and is not a consensus builder.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      " If that means more scare tactics and tactics to divide the American people he will continue to do so"

      yeah because next thing you know he will be talking about a war on religion, gay marriage destroying the moral fabric of the country, death panels and........oh wait, hang on.

      May 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chrissy

    I'm confused by everyone saying they won't vote for Obama in the fall now. Yes, he came out with his opinion, but it's still the individual STATES that decide the issue. The President will have some options to increase equality for the LGBT community, but in the end, this single issue is still up to the voters.

    Why all the hate? I don't get it.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Because he has shown his true self, he flip flopped his opinion just like Romney does! It shows he will do anything and say anything just to be re-elected!

      May 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Because he has shown his true self, he flip flopped his opinion just like Romney does! It shows he will do anything and say anything just to be re-elected!"

      because you think this will get him votes he didnt already have? or wont cost him more than he does gain?
      think seriously about this, you really think this will help him politically?

      May 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Who is inserting religion/personal beliefs into politics? Obama! His record sucks, His promises were all lies, even health care will be struck down - So now he is using human emotions. What a rotten person he is! His color is no excuse for being a rotten human being.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "His color is no excuse for being a rotten human being"

      are you suggesting that because he is black you expect him to behave worse? because that is sure are heck is how it was read.

      and he gave his opinon in the same way you gave yours. is he not allowed one?

      May 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    Love is patient, love is kind,
    It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud,
    It is not rude, it is not self-serving.
    It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs,
    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perservers.
    And now faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is LOVE.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Supid comment. The government does not regulate love. Obama is only using this because he has no record except 6 trillion in more debt with nothing to show for it. You are being played like a fiddle

      May 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Then why can't 2 people in love get married and why is the government and religious right keeping them from it.

      May 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. to recovering republican

    and if that was the right candidate who was elected by this country then good on him from WHATEVER background he came from (or she came from) . you know it occurs to me that all of this is just trumped up name calling...whether its repub, democrat, straight, bi, white, black...blah blah blah. HUMAN rights is what we are talking about.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ben

    Just wait you will see the rest of the dem's will start having this same "evolution" in their opinion on this matter. The dem's are whipping out their political weather instruments just to see which way the political wind is blowing today...

    May 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      by that token then we can say the repubs will all be ranting against gay marriage now because their default stance is to be anti whatever Obama says.

      May 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. n38494

    It is immoral to impose your personal Sharia Law on to others. Keep your religion out of politics.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
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