The day following May 9th, when voters in North Carolina passed a state amendment to ban not only same-sex marriage but civil unions as well, President Obama went on record during an interview voicing his support for same-sex marriage. Earlier in the week, Vice President Biden stated he too was comfortable with same-sex marriage, therefore, getting the jump on the President’s announcement. Vice President Biden’s expression of support seemed to have caused unexpected backlash within the LGBT community. Many were upset that the support wasn’t coming from the President, himself. Max Mutchnick, half of the creative team behind Will & Grace, told Variety that, “[President Obama] needs to catch up with his Vice President in terms of his views… I have always thought that his language, where he has stated that his views are ‘evolving,’ I personally find that wholly offensive. I can’t imagine what it would be like to say that about other minorities in the United States. I couldn’t speak that way about other people.” Anderson Cooper even took a jab at the President prior to his announcement saying, “The president’s position on marriage is anything but precise.”
I must admit, I was shocked that President Obama made this announcement now—prior to the election. It couldn’t have been damage control from such minor backlash. I’ve heard rumblings on Facebook, blogs and conversations that the President is desperately trying to secure the gay vote in repentance for not having done more. It’s no secret that a small minority within in the LGBT community would claim the President and his administration has fallen short with their support of the gay community during his term. I tend to disagree. As you may remember, President Obama overturned “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” allowing gays in the military to serve openly. He instructed the Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. He has extended benefits to same-sex domestics partners to federal employees. By no means would I say the President has fallen short and anyone who claims he has, hasn’t done their research. Even prior to his public support of gay marriage, I’ve always felt like the President has been an ally to our community. Unfortunately, the big changes everyone wants will not happen over night.
Let’s face it, if for some reason you’re not satisfied with the Presidents performance and you’re LGBT or a heterosexual woman who value her rights, it’s not likely you’ll be jumping on the Romney bandwagon. So frankly, I don’t think anyone expected such an announcement prior to the election in an (assumed) effort to secure votes. Most recent polls show that the United States is nearly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage. President Obama’s announcement may have just made this an even closer race. We don’t need polls to tell us that his announcement just cost him some votes–particularly some of those of evangelical African-Americans and Latinos of the Catholic faith. I believe he could have easily kept silent and maintained his base of voters. I believe, like in 2008, he will really needs to go after women voters and young voters to win this election. Maybe his announcement is a call to arms of sort for those who agree with his vision.
I would have expected the President to maintain an elusive stance on same-sex marriage until what I hoped would be his reelection. Like any politician, I figured he was always campaigning and strategizing and thinking about his political future. I expected to see a more liberal Obama in his second term—if he were reelected. I’ll probably never figure out why he made this announcement when he did. In a sense, our President is unprecedented. I like to believe that he made a bold announcement as a taste of what’s to come for the country if he serves a second term. Maybe he’s no longer a politician but a leader for equality and a man of the people. One thing is for sure, we will really need to rally for our President in the coming months. It’s going to be a tough race.