Your President: Obama Affirms His Support for Same Gender Marriage

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obamaPresident Obama today announced that he now supports same-gender marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this decision, based on conversations with his staff members, openly same gender service members, and his wife and daughters.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-[gender] relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same [gender] couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC’s “World News With Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline.”

The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with same genders getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-gender equality or, you know, genderual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-[gender] couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and, frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

Roberts asked the president whether first lady Michelle Obama was involved in his decision. Obama said she was, and he talked specifically about his own faith.

“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is….it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.”

Previously, Obama has moved in the direction of supporting same-gender marriage but has consistently stopped short of outright backing it.

Instead, he has voiced support for civil unions for same gender couples that provide the rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples, although not defined as “marriage.” At the same time, the president has opposed efforts to ban same gender marriage at the state level, saying that he did not favor attempts to strip rights away from same gender couples.

The president’s position became a flashpoint this week, when Vice President Joe Biden pronounced himself “absolutely comfortable” with allowing same-gender couples to wed.

Obama aides insisted there was no daylight between the positions held by the president and his vice president when it comes to legal rights, but as other prominent Democrats also weighed in favor of same gender marriage, the disconnect became difficult for the White House to explain away.

The announcement completes a turnabout for the president, who has opposed same gender marriage throughout his career in national politics. In 1996, as a state Senate candidate, he indicated support for same gender marriage in a questionnaire, but Obama aides later disavowed it and said it did not reflect the candidate’s position.

In 2004, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he cited his own religion in framing his views: “I’m a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

He maintained that position through his 2008 presidential campaign, and through his term as president, until today.

As president in 2010, Obama told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that his feelings about same gender marriage were “constantly evolving. I struggle with this.” A year later, the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “I’m still working on it.”

“I probably won’t make news right now, George,” Obama said in October 2011. “But I think that there’s no doubt that as I see friends, families, children of same gender couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”

Obama’s decision has political connotations for the fall. The issue divides elements of the Democratic base, with liberals and same gender-rights groups eager to see the president go further, but with same gender marriage far less popular among African-American voters.

Just yesterday, in North Carolina, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same gender marriage. Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, and its status as a 2012 battleground state was guaranteed by Democrats’ decision to hold their convention in Charlotte this summer.

Obama’s likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, opposes same gender marriage, and fought his state’s highest court, as governor, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same gender marriage in 2004. Romney said on the campaign trail Monday that he continues to oppose same gender marriage.

“My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “That’s the position I’ve had for some time, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments at this point. … Or ever, by the way.”

{Rick Klein-ABC News/Matzav.com Newscenter}

28 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t consider him a president at all and definitely not MY president.
    I have no more faith left in humanity!

  2. It’s not nivul peh to print the words “same —” in your stories. Your current substitution of “gender” for every mention seems somewhat immature and certainly grammatically incorrect.

  3. same gender marriage does and will not affect orthodox Jews in the slightest. There should be a separation of church and state

  4. What religion does he follow? What he is saying is against both Islam and Christianity.

    It seems like he makes up his own religion….

  5. two words disgus-ting im shocked how low humanity could go a president supporting…i cant even write it its so humiliating and gross

  6. your loss of faith, others right to equality. Fair trade. We dont have halakha overriding our laws in America. No reason to deny people their equal legal right based on our communities and their practices.

  7. As opposed as I am to his position on marriage, that is not even the most offensive thing in the President’s speech.

    “when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf…”

    On YOUR behalf? Are you a king? Is the U.S. Military your private army? You may be commander-in-chief for now, but it is the United States Military, and they serve the country, not the president. Your arrogance is a disgrace to the office you hold.

    BTW: What exactly is “genderual orientation”?

  8. 1) Re comment #2 I disagree, but I think it is a good idea to go back to calling it what it is, toeivah, anyway.

    2) Re comment #3 – Not true. It pollutes the atmosphere spiritually. Spiritual pollution is a serious threat, as air and water pollution are.

  9. To #3 and #7 If you really felt disgusted by the abomination of same gender marriages the way Hashem describes it in the Torah then regardless of who is practicing these immoral acts- Jew and non Jew alike- it should leave a bad a disgusting taste in your mouth!

  10. Romney doesn’t agree with obama.

    to #7- just bec we don’t have the ability to override the law, doesn’t mean that we can’t stop our world from becoming gross by voicing our own opinion

  11. The Seven Noahide Laws are incumbent on all humans. By not protesting we are guilty of acquiescing to the violation of TWO of the Laws..Immorality AND Dinim(ie.enacting a law to promote violation of the Noahide Law)

  12. Actually it does affect the frum community.
    A photographer in New Mexico who refused to photograph a same gender wedding was fined/sued by the states equivalent of Human Rights Commission.
    What about when a Yeshiva refuses to hire a same gender English teacher or janitor or secretary – non clergy positions.
    What about a Jewish organization or hospital that refuses to employ or insure “spouse” of a same gender person. Very likely that under current constitutional law such laws restricting our rights would be valid.

  13. First of all, many of the commenters here need to learn some respect and hakaras hatov. He is your president, it’s a democratic society and you lost the vote. Deal with your reality.

    This is NOT an issue that is going to define the success of the frum community and going after it is only diverting funds and resources which can be used to help our community grow.

  14. “The Torah speaks about certain sins, the commission of which was the cause for the obligation to destroy every last remnant of the Canaanite nations. In describing their immoral behavior, the Torah says of the acts they performed, “…kee es kol eileh osu vo’okutz bom,” they should be destroyed and eliminated from the world so that no trace remains of a society predicated on such a disgusting “lifestyle”. We are warned, repeatedly, that should this filth and degradation appear among us, it would be cause for the same instructions(amendments) to be issued vis-à-vis the Jewish people, may Hashem protect us from this.

    To our great chagrin and shame, there has arisen among us a group of political office seekers who openly espouse this Canaanite behavior and who are leading proponents of teaching it to innocent children in the youngest grades and making it acceptable in American society.

    Besides destroying the innocence of these children from the earliest age and ruining any morality that remains in to day’s civilized society, they would openly provoke the wrath of the Holy one, Blessed be He,against our contemporary society in the same manner as it was directed against the Canaanites.”

  15. To No. 21. You need your head examined. And there is freedom of speech in this country. Believe me, the commentators have plenty of respect. In this case, there just isn’t anyone to respect. Simple as that.

  16. Another sign that it’s time to head over to Eretz Yisroel. The frum community has focused on this issue in recent months (e.g., the Weprin-Turner election). This time we ought to vote with our feet and stand up for Torah values.

  17. Since when do presidents ask their minor children for advice before making important decisions? Furthermore, what kind of president speaks to his daughters about their friends’ parents at the dinner table? Next thing you know, he’ll be asking his dog Bo for advice. As to #21, Reality Check, you need a reality check. Hakaros hatov? Whether it’s same-gender marriage, the State of Israel, his mocking of Chanukah at the White House “we don’t need an excuse to have a good party” or Passover Seder (where he doesn’t have the decency to put on a yarmulke), this president has lost the respect of those Jews who are proud of their Judaism and who support Israel.

  18. Since when do presidents ask their minor children for advice before making important decisions? Furthermore, what kind of person speaks to his daughters about their friends’ parents at the dinner table? Next thing you know, he’ll be asking his dog Bo for advice. As to #21, Reality Check, you need a reality check. Hakaros hatov? Whether it’s same-gender marriage, the State of Israel, his mocking of Chanukah at the White House “we don’t need an excuse to have a good party” or Passover Seder (where he doesn’t have the decency to put on a yarmulke), this president has lost the respect of those Jews who are proud of their Judaism and who support Israel.

  19. Reality Check, I think it does affect us, and not just because there are people grappling with this. In the minds of many, this is the new civil rights battle and people who oppose it are equally bigoted. If Obama loses over this, he will spend the rest of his life as a martyr (and of course I wish him a long healthy life, I mean a living martyr) for the cause. That might be the niche in history he can happily live with.

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