Obama Says “I Do” to Gay Marriage
Obama Says “I Do” to Gay Marriage
Yesterday President Barack Obama gave an interview to ABC News in which he said “I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” The President said this is a personal belief. Obama said he once thought civil unions (with full rights) were enough but now he believes this is not enough – that full marriage rights should be given to same sex couples. Undoubtedly this is a huge deal in the fight for gay rights and marriage equality. The LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated the president’s endorsement of gay marriage. No sitting President has ever endorsed full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Facebook and Twitter were overrun by the President’s stance on this issue. It was the lead story on every nightly newscast. Many Americans are very proud of the President for his courage for boldly taking a stand.
I have long believed in full rights for gays and lesbians. In January I had the good fortune to met a wonderful young lesbian couple who deeply love and care about each other. I have had coworkers and friends that are gay and lesbians – they were all wonderful people. My heroes Tegan and Sara are twins – both lesbians – and I think they write some of the most intelligent music I have ever heard and are good role models. I have never held the belief that homosexuality is “wrong” or “unnatural”. Love is love however it looks – whether between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Since I support gay rights I guess I am a liberal although I always thought I was a moderate. Family and friends of mine have varying views on gay rights and they are free to have their opinions. But for me personally I echo the President’s sentiment that same sex couples should have the full marriage rights that straight couples have.
I would be remiss to write this blog without sharing with you what I think of President Obama. Like many Americans, I saw him for the first time while he was speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was inspired by his speech and thought he would be a future of the Democratic Party. I thought he had great audacity to seek the Democratic nomination in 2008. A one term US Senator with “the funny name”. No one gave him a chance – much in the way that no one gave Lincoln a chance to be the Republican nominee in 1860 much less win the election. As a Democrat I felt like I had two choices: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. When I found out Obama had come out against the War in Iraq (like I did) and Clinton voted for it that was it – Obama was my choice. In March 2008 I started volunteering for the Obama campaign in my home county of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. I registered people to vote, made phone calls, canvassed the county and found that I was pretty good at this sort of thing (I graduated Penn State to become a social studies teacher and have had a life long interest in American history, specifically the Revolutionary generation) In Summer 2008 I was selected by the campaign to be an Obama Organizing Fellow which basically meant I was a part of the transition team between the primary campaign and the general election campaign. I stayed on as a volunteer through November. I was pleased to have helped win the county for Obama but I think my favorite part of the whole experience was getting to know great people in my neighborhood.
I supported Obama in 2008 and will again support him in 2012. To me the President has done his best in very hard time for our country.
Getting back to the news of yesterday there are two very important pieces of information to keep in mind.
1) The President believes marriage equality is a state issue not a federal issue.
2) The President will not seek a Constitutional Amendment to legalize gay marriage nationwide (meaning it will not be an issue for the federal government).
These pieces are quite critical to keep in mind. Marriage and marriage licenses are a state issue – not a federal issue. There is a great reason why this is and why so many issues are states issues rather than federal issues. The reason is the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which to me is the most important or second most important amendment in the Bill of Rights. It reads:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The reason this amendment was passed is because many of the Framers of the Constitution feared a strong central government having just rid themselves of England, which had a strong central government. Some of the Framers considered King George III a tyrant.
The President does not seek a Constitutional Amendment to endorse gay marriage. His presumptive Republican opponent Mitt Romney seeks a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It should be noted that Obama taught Constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School from 1992-2004.
Article V of the Constitution describes how the Constitution may be amended:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
So basically if the Constitution is to amended both houses of Congress must pass the measure with 2/3 of each house voting in favor of it. If this happens, 3/4 of the states must ratify the measure. Since 1791 when the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) was passed the Constitution has only been amended SEVENTEEN times in TWO HUNDRED TWENTY ONE years. Obama knows as a former Constitutional law professor that an amendment to endorse gay marriage is highly unlikely to pass in 2012. That’s why he believes it should be left to the states. On the other hand I question how well Romney knows how to amend the Constitution and furthermore his proposed gay marriage ban is highly unlikely to pass.