President Obama and other politicians
announce personal support of SSM. Reactions.
2012-MAY: Part 1: Announcements by VP Biden,
Education Secretary Duncan, & President Obama
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
Personal statements by the Vice President, Education Secretary and President Obama:
2012-MAY-06: USA: Vice President Joe Biden, a practicing Roman Catholic, issued a positive same-sex marriage message on "Meet the Press." He gave his personal belief, saying in part:
"I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that."
He said he "can’t speak for" the administration coming out in support of same-sex marriage, but said Obama has been a champion for gay rights. 1
15 second commercial + 2 minute, 39 second interview
2012-MAY-07: USA: Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared on MSNBC's program "Morning Joe." When asked if same-sex couples should be able to marry, he said: "Yes, I do." He also commented that he didn't think that anyone had asked him that question in public before. 2
2012-MAY-08: USA: President Obama announced that he is personally in favor of marriage equality: President Obama has repeatedly stated that his position is evolving on the subject of same-sex marriage. In the months before his election as President during 2008, he repeatedly said that he favored civil unions for same-sex couples with the same rights and protections of marriage. However, wherever civil unions have been tried as a "separate but equal" system to marriage, they have failed. "Civil unionized" couples often have to fight and/or sue to obtain the rights guaranteed to them because many people and institutions are not aware that civil unions are intended to carry the same legal rights as marriage.
Civil Unions have also failed because they do not include the right to call one's relationship a marriage. This is for some people the most important right of all. To appreciate how important the term "marriage" is to a person in a same-sex civil union, ask any opposite-sex married couple whether they would be willing to trade in their marriage certificate for a civil union document.
The President has been often asked since taking office about his stand on same-sex marriage. He has always replied that his position is evolving. Then he typically deflected the question by pointing out the achievements of his administration in furthering equality for LGBTs:
Passing the federal hate-crimes bill which expanded an existing law to include women, disabled persons, persons of all sexual orientations, and persons of all sexual identities, including transgender persons and transsexuals;
Issuing an executive order to require almost all hospitals to recognize the visitation rights of same-sex relationship partners.
Deciding in early 2011 that the courts had shown the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and ordering the Justice Department to not defend the law's constitutionality during future court challenges.
In a hastily arranged interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" with anchor Robin Roberts, he said:
"I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. At a certain point, I just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same sex couples should be able to get married. ... I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient. ... And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word 'marriage' was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth. ... 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-sex 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 sex couples should be able to get married." 3,4
Referring to Vice President Biden's public support for SSM two days previously, he said:
"“He probably got out a little over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit. Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way, in my own terms without, I think, there being a lot of notice to everybody? Of course. But all is well that ends well." 5
This video of the President's position is provided by The Australian: 2 minutes, 01 second. It may or might not work properly on your browser:
Part of the reason why he arrived at this decision was the quality of the relationships among that minority of his staff members who are gay or lesbian and are in long-term monogamous relationships, raising children.
Another main influence came from his two daughters. Some of their friends have same-sex parents. The Toronto Star reported that Sasha, 11, and Malia, 13, "... were unable even to conceive of the topic as controversial."