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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôt punish him and that being on the right side of history will not eventually hurt him," Tour√© wrote. "Obama has seemed to want to overtly support marriage equality for a while ‚ÄĒ a year ago he¬†said¬†gays 'are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our coworkers, and they‚Äôve got to be treated like every other American. ‚Ķ I think we‚Äôre moving in a direction of greater equality and ‚ÄĒ and I think that‚Äôs a good thing.' ‚ÄĚ

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.

‚ÄúIt cuts both ways: It activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,‚ÄĚ said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. ‚ÄúThe most likely effect is that it makes an already close election even closer.‚ÄĚ

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. Jwl

    Will not be voting for Obama this time around. Sorry but I think his values are not mine anymore.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      This is not an issue and it should not be. Sorry Obama doesn't live up to your standards of what you think is moral or isn't moral. If this is more of a priority to you than the real issues, do us all a favor. Stay home in November and don't vote.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. JYMK

    The other day I attended a wonderful wedding. One which I hope will last forever. It got me to thinking about what I marriage is and isn’t. Here are my thoughts on it.
    Marriage is not a legal ceremony or a state approved coupling, nor is it a religious organization holy state. Marriage is two (usually) people who have found it in their souls to join together in a union, bound by love and love alone. Marriage is sharing , joy, sorrow, birth, death, of sharing family traditions (even if they seem silly) and creation of your own traditions (which are not silly in the least), of putting one Life Mate above blood relatives, it is giving ones dreams to the other, of changing the dream so it will fit or creating new dreams together and it is truth and beauty. It is holding the other when they need someone to hold them and not asking why they are crying, cause you know that their telling you will only cause more pain for them. It is turning off the TV and hearing what is being said and hearing what is being said and not just the words spoken. It is reaching out and touching the other lightly, so as to let them know that you are there, understand or at least trying to but you will be there in any case. It is being there to lend a hand to help the other up, with out that look on your face. It is being considerate of the other and giving them the last cookie or letting them have their dream come true and putting yours on hold for awhile longer.
    Government or religious groups can not end a marriage. It is ended by the people in it. It ends when lies replace truth and dreams are no longer shared. It ends when only one person gives and the one giving, can no longer stand to be the only giver. It ends when one person wakes up and says to the other ‚ÄúI Love You‚ÄĚ and gets a sad look in return. It takes many things to make a marriage and only a few to end it.
    Yes, government or a religious group may claim providence over marriage and say only they can start it or end it. In reality, all they can do is say a few words and print some words on a new piece of paper . Declaring what already is or was!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Pistol Pete

      You lost me with "two 'usually' people."

      May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. brandon

    Why do you people care? its not like it affects u, it affects teens like me who are gay and one day hope tht they can marry the person they love.

    Equality is not equal if its sometimes.

    I say let people be who they want to be, worry about yourselves and just stop trying to decide what others can and cant do.

    how would you like it if everyone told you that you couldn't marry because your straight?

    and for the jesus freaks, separation of church and state was made for a reason, keep your god out of politics because its not your right to use him as an excuse to chose how people live. not everyone on this earth believes in the same god, so your going to have to make room to accept that your not going to force him down EVERYONE's throat.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • macdugger

      You were born a man or a woman. You chose the path that you wanted to go on, straight or gay, this isn't something that someone pushed down your throat. I agree that you should be able to marry who you want, but please do not adopt a child. When that child goes to school and is old enough to understand that Johnny has a Mommy and Daddy and the only thing I have is a Daddy and Daddy. Try and explain that to a 7 year old. God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Dave.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. RESET

    Who thinks that President Obama's decision to support gay marriage will help boost the economy or bring more jobs to the states? I sure don't. This is his personal opinion and isn't a bill or being pushed through the House and Senate at all. Who cares if he supports gay marriage. It has no affect on my life or many other "straight" lives. Lets focus on the stock market, economy, jobs and that war in the middle east... and the big bad bully... Israel. I like turkey tacos.... will that bring more jobs and boost the economy..... not any time soon.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • whoknew

      I agree! It's just a deflection off of important issues. Just trying to swing the gay community votes in his favor so he is re=elected. There goes the economy for another four years. Who wants more of THAT!

      May 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • falkyrian

      Exactly. Social issues ARE NOT a priority for someone who is supposed to be leading on the national stage. Who cares who can get married if we won't have ANY health care in 10 years due to debt. Gay, straight, man, woman, black, job or lowered pay in new/lesser job....THIS is an issue. NOT being able to move forward with an energy policy while we call ourselves( meaning the USA ) a world superpower. Not being able to follow our own laws on Illegal Immigration( the last big push was 1986 with virtually nothing done with results )....THIS is an issue. Gay marriage, abortion rights, or even gun control......NOT IMHO a key issue for either a sitting President or those that are looking to become POTUS. In a word....priorities....

      May 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jen

    So proud to be an American ‚Äď finally. Every American has a right to be married. Period. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Separate but equal was NOT ok 60 years ago and it's STILL not okay.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Shar

      There is no dignity in gay marriage – it is still deviant. Stop labeling it dignified – what a joke.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      If this is the first thing that has made you proud to be an American, then get the hell out.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. John in Benson

    To all of you religious zealots: God created man. That includes the gay community. If God didn't approve of gays then why did he create them? Many of you believe in predestination: God knows your entire life's path before you exist. So why would he "allow" gays to be part of this world unless He was okay with it? The idea that He put them here just so they could be persecuted by so-called "Christians" makes absolutely no sense at all.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • FLIndpendent

      Bingo – I ask the same thing. Didn't God create all men in his image?

      May 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. whoknew

    BIG gamble Obama. Interesting to see if this swings markedly in your disfavor come election time!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. MrApplesauce

    Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or how we voted. All that matters is that a few stood against many. That's what's important! Intolerance pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me Victory over the unbelievers! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. To2012

    As usual...Obama got it right.

    Thank you, Mr. President, for confirming what most Americans feel is fair, and for establishing progress where there has for too long been nothing but backward motion–thanks to the antics of terroristic Fundamentalists.

    You done good!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ed

    Obama has solved the gay "marriage" issue in his own mind – that is nice. Now if he can get back to the real world and actually plan and work to solve the problems of unemployment, $1trillion dollar yearly Federal deficits, illegal immigration, Iran, etc. that would be nice.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      He was asked a question and he answered it. If you saw the full interview you would have heard what he said about the real issues like the economy.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Citizen1546459

      Think if Bush had a Third Term, We would all be learning Chinese to communicate with our new overlords! Obama is a workaholic compared to the last administration. Additionally he has to deal with Idiots that call themselves the birther movement. The economy is getting better, every few weeks the Republican party needs to find a new topic to criticize Obama on because he has fixed so many things.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Carmen

    GOD gave HIS life for each and every human being because HE loves each and everyone; but HE gave us the Ten
    Commandments- Thou shall not steal, commit adultry, kill etc., HE does not approve of many things we humans are
    doing against HIS will and certainly HE does not approve of lesbianism or gayism, but HE loves the individual and its
    up to us woman and man to correct all the wrong we are doing against GOD because we will have to face HIM and
    be responsible for our acts. There is too much corruption in this world! We need to protect our United States of America above all!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Does He talk to you? Did He personally tell you?

      May 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • yeahalright

      Enlighten me please, which commandment was it that commanded people not to be gay?

      May 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • sherrie

      With all due respect, Carmen, your god also told you "judge not, lest ye be judged." It is not up to you to determine the morals of those around you, just yourself. I'm pretty sure Jesus hung around the sinners for a reason, and it sure as heck wasn't to tell them they were going to burn in hell.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • appstate

      its not up to man and woman to correct these "wrong doings" like you said "WE" will all face him one day don't you think thats enough, don't go around pushing your s*&t on other people maybe they think what you do is wrong. Besides we are all sinners so that all includes you. Also if we need to protect the "United States of America above all" are you putting down other people of the world are they less than you because of the geographic location in which you live? I think you should take a more wordly approach to how you grow as a person and you might learn a thing or two.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet

      We do NOT need to protect the United States above all. This is NOT a Christian country and never was intended to be, not shoul it be. Jesus never tried to set up a theocracy and in fact said to leave government to others ("Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's). Jesus was the first person to advocate separation of Church and State.

      May 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sarcastro

    How sad. Soon we'll want to let Gay people vote and sit at the front of the bus. Eeeewww!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. ©nevárez

    Where is Captain America when you need him? ;D

    May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Gurgi

    America is going the same way as the Roman empire and for the same reasons. At least the Romans had a thousand years or so, we'll be lucky to last 300.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sarcastro

    Can we at least all agree that gay votes only count as 3/5 of a vote?

    Oh wait, treating them as less than human would just be an absurd step backwards...

    May 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • i12bphil

      That is absurd unto itself. Gay people have always had the same rights as any human being. Their vote counts as much as anyone else. Now suddenly since they want to get married everyone is acting like they been oppressed. Its simply ridiculous. Marriage has ALWAYS been between an man and a woman so that they could create children and now that its a hot button topic the left is acting like marriage has always been about gay oppression. Its B.S.!

      May 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
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