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 sex couples should be able to get married.
– President Obama, May 9, 2012
Though he does not officially support gay marriage, President Obama voiced opposition to a proposed anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Minnesota today.
Obama for America Minnesota Communications Director Kristin Sosanie said:
“While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples.”
“That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do – single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and the President does not support it.”
The proposed Minnesota marriage amendment reads simply, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”
It’s the second time in as many months Obama has weighed in on the issue.
The Obama campaign in North Carolina issued a statement in March with the same language in opposition to Amendment One, which would also define marriage in the state’s constitution as between one man and one woman.
Just as in North Carolina, same-sex marriage is already banned by a statute in Minnesota. Unlike the North Carolina amendment, the Minnesota amendment does not mention civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Today’s news comes after White House press secretary Jay Carney stated that First Lady Michelle Obama – in referencing how Supreme Court decisions will impact whether people can “love whomever we choose” – was not commenting about marriage equality.
Her husband, though “evolving” in his views on marriage equality, technically opposed marriage equality and supported civil unions in his 2008 campaign.
April 9th, 2012 4:32 PM by Free Britney
NORTHFIELD, Vermont (Reuters) – When Joshua Fontanez began training as a cadet at Norwich University in 2008, he kept silent about his sexuality for fear of being expelled from the military school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Now after the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a gay pride group he helped found is staging a “Queer Prom” and a “Condom Olympics” as part of the first gay pride week at any of the nation’s public and private military academies. Events kicked off on Monday.
“It really wasn’t talked about,” said the 22-year-old Fontanez as he stood before a rainbow flag and an information booth for the Vermont school’s club that is aimed at lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders as well as those who are questioning their sexuality and their supporters.
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was not a topic to discuss,” he said. “Now we have this change.”
The groups have sprouted up at academies in the wake of the repeal six months ago, decades after similar groups first appeared at civilian universities.
About 60 gay and straight cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut have formed the Spectrum Diversity Council, while others at the Military Academy in West Point, New York and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado have applied to form similar clubs.
Cadets at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and two prominent state military schools, Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina have not formed such clubs, though all three have gay alumni groups.
Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, service members could not talk openly about their sexuality if they were gay, although the military was prevented from discriminating against them.
Chip Hall, a senior at the Coast Guard Academy, said the clubs that are open now had their roots in an underground network of Facebook and online groups for gay military cadets prior to the repeal.
Hall said on Saturday he plans to don his dress uniform and bring his tuxedo-clad boyfriend to the academy’s Castle Ball.
It’s a far cry from his freshman year, when talking about his sexuality would have resulted in being expelled from school.
“I didn’t know any gay people at the academy. It was pretty lonely,” he said. “On top of that, being a freshman at a service academy is really very difficult. Now it’s the opposite. All my friends know.”
Hall’s classmate Kelli Normoyle said she considered quitting the school several times but is now set to graduate this spring and become a commissioned officer.
“I was tired of having to lie,” she said.
Richard Schneider, the president of Norwich and a retired rear admiral in the Coast Guard Reserve, said a gay classmate at the Coast Guard Academy in the 1960s had been thrown out of school “after having been found in a compromising position.”
Today’s group has gotten some resistance within the student body, but much of the criticism has come from alumni, he said.
The school, which has about 1,300 military cadets and 1,100 civilian students, has gotten about 200 e-mails from alumni in response to the group. Most have been critical, particularly of Fontanez naming the group’s social the “Queer Prom,” he said.
“It’s very symbolic and it’s kind of in your face, but we’re an educational institution, and I want them to have a respectful dialogue,” Schneider said. “My alums have to get used to it, and some of them are just going to have to get over it.”
(This version of the story fixes dateline to Vermont instead of New Hampshire)
(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Paul Thomasch)
HUFF POST POLITICS Posted: 03/19/2012 12:59 pm
President Obama has been called on the carpet yet again by some gay activists for not forcefully and unequivocally saying “I support gay marriage.” This doesn’t mean simply his backing full equality, civil rights, and civil unions for gays, or support for gays in the military, calls on UN to end discrimination against gays, making supportive speeches to gay rights groups, or strongly opposing the seemingly never-ending ballot initiatives and legislative efforts to outlaw gay marriage. He’s done all of that. No, he must say the words, “I support gay marriage” to fully satisfy some gay rights activists. The “some” is a crucial qualifier. Many gay rights activists understand that a GOP White House would be beyond a horror. GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney would subtly, and GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum would openly, back any and every anti-gay rights initiative measure, and piece of legislation any and everywhere in the country. But the president is different. He is clearly a friend of the gay rights movement, and an African American so therefore more, much more, is expected of him.
However, the 2012 election will be, as it was in 2008, a numbers, not a percentage game. This means that Obama must not just get a majority of gay votes which he’s assured of. It means he must stir passion, excitement, and enthusiasm among gay voters as he did in 2008. This translates directly into numbers, and in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida with a large number of gay voters and an even larger number of conservative Christian evangelical voters, any slack off in the number of gay voters that turn out in November would be a hard blow to the president.
But President Obama would have to totally reverse his cautious approach to politically loaded issues to say once and for all: “I support gay marriage.” It would also be the final test of his fundamental and personal beliefs. He’s made those beliefs clear on several occasions when he flatly said he wouldn’t sign on to same sex marriage because of his “understandings” of what traditional marriage should be. He later softened that to the equally cautious note that he’s “evolving” on the issue.
Obama is no different than many other moderate, tolerant and broad minded African Americans on diversity issues. But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church, and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure. This mix of fear, belief, and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage.
At the same time, polls have shown that anti-gay attitudes among blacks have softened at least publicly among many blacks. But the line continues to be just as firmly drawn among many blacks on same sex marriage. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (in polls in 2009 and 2010) found that blacks opposed same sex marriage by gaping margins over whites or Hispanics. The finding was even more striking in that Pew also found that for the first time in the decade and half that it had been polling Americans on attitudes toward gay rights, and that includes gay marriage, that less than half of Americans opposed same sex marriage.
The Pew poll is in line with other polls that show that the number of Americans that either outright back gay marriage, are or tolerant or indifferent toward it, is inching toward a majority nationally. The number that supports gay marriage has topped a majority in the states that have legalized it. But those states are still in the numbers minority, and the public acceptance of it is hardly evenly widespread. In the Deep South, parts of the West, and in the Midwest, gay marriage still stirs anger and loathing among many. Presidents, like other elected officials, take keen note of the polarizing impact of gay marriage.
President Obama, though, has not taken the final step and said, “I support gay marriage,” solely because of narrow religious beliefs, conservative family upbringing, or a racial herd mentality that is unyielding on the traditional defense of family values. However, these are factors that have made for pause and caution by him. Still, Obama still has gotten it mostly right on gay rights, and given the grim GOP presidential alternative and the near certainty that he’ll eventually get it right to the total satisfaction of gay activists in full support of gay marriage, to hold his refusal to utter the final words and endorse gay marriage now is worse than dumb and silly; it is politically suicidal.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
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Think Progress By Igor Volsky on Jan 17, 2012
Mitt Romney added a reference to same-sex marriage during his regular stump speech in South Carolina this morning, highlighting his campaign’s effort to court the state’s many social voters ahead of the primary on Saturday. “This is a president also who is attempting to pave the way for same-sex marriage in our nation by refusing through his attorney general to defend the Defense of Marriage Act,” Romney said. “I will defend that Act and I will also defend marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.” After initially claiming that the issue of marriage should be left to the states, Romney now supports a federal constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and would adopt a three-tier marriage system for gay couples. Watch it: