Wednesday, May 9, 2012

President's brave stance on gay marriage

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President Barack Obama today told the world he is now a supporter of gay marriage. My first reaction to the news was, Why did it take an apparent "gaffe" by Vice President Joe Biden to get the president off the fence on this issue?

Upon further examination, though, I can understand the president's hesitancy on gay marriage. A straight man coming out in favor of homosexual rights can be as difficult as a gay person coming out of the closet.

President Obama used to say he was against gay marriage, and later he said his position was "evolving." I don't think either of those statements are true. I believe Barack Obama has always been in favor of gay marriage. His hedging in the past was in part a political strategy to avoid taking an unpopular stand with voters, but it was also a technique used by straight men, consciously or not, who don't want to be painted as "gay-friendly." It's a macho thing, and I get it.

Obama's statements today could also be viewed as political (and of course those intentions can't be avoided during a campaign year). I can't quote chapter and verse, but I heard about a recent poll which stated the majority of Americans now favor gay marriage, a huge change from the past, and a hell of a good reason for a politician to change positions on an issue.

But politics were not the only factor. There's a difference between answering an anonymous question from a pollster and what President Obama did today. Think about it: the President of the United States told the world he supported the rights of homosexual couples to get married, a view that would have meant certain political death just a few short years ago. How amazing is that? Barack Obama's actions today may be the bravest thing I've ever seen a president do.

I don't think I've ever had occasion to say these words before, but I'm proud of my president.

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