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May 14, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Political Porn With Hamish

Obama Supports gay marriage – but will he do anything about it?

As you’re probably aware by now, US President Barack Obama has announced his support for gay marriage – a first for an American President.

Obama made his views known in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, after his Vice President, Joe Biden, had said that he is completely comfortable with gay people marrying earlier in the week.

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.

Social media lit up after the interview, but in practical terms, not a huge amount is likely to change. Obama was indicating his personal view. His preference is for an incremental process towards legalising same-sex marriages, leaving the final decision to individual states.

Openly gay media personality Dan News told Salient he’d like to see the President go further:

“I’d like to think he will take steps to make it law and not just leave it to individual states. Although, it’s a risky time for him to bring it up with the election approaching.”

Obama has, however, already taken some steps towards marriage equality. His Justice Department has stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage, “a legal union between one man and one woman.” This has been occurring for over a year and by waiving a defence, Obama is attempting to extend the federal government’s economic marriage benefits—such as joint income tax returns and pensions—to same-sex married couples in states that allow same-sex couples to get married. Republicans, however, have signed up a former Solicitor General to defend the Act.

Leaving same-sex marriage to each individual state to decide upon could result in a lengthy process for nation-wide recognition. North Carolina voters affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman only the day before Obama’s interview.

Obama does have his hands somewhat tied. The United States is just that, a federation of states, meaning that its federal government does not have the power to legislate in every area. Going by current case law, only states may pass same-sex marriage legislation.

The statement can, and is, having other effects though, as pointed out by AaronandAndy.com’s Andy Boreham:

“Support for same sex marriage equality from the leader of the free world has a powerful, if symbolic, effect on queer rights throughout the world, which can only have a positive impact, in the long run, on queer and questioning youth. World leaders are feeling the pressure Obama has created regarding equal rights and this pressure should trickle down into change at a domestic level within states around the globe.”

The trickle down was experienced in New Zealand, with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition passing comment on the legalisation of same-sex marriages.

Key stated that he said he is comfortable with the status quo, saying there is “no clamour” in New Zealand for gay marriage. He’s also previously gone on record stating that “it’s not a priority at the moment”, with the economy the greater focus.

Dan News believes John Key, along with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, needs to look into legalising same-sex marriages. At this stage, it’s likely gay marriage won’t be passed this term – the government’s legislative programme is currently full-up meaning any legislation would need to come via a Member’s Bill.

The National Party’s youth wing, the Young Nats, is in favour of same-sex marriages.

The Prime Minister’s personal view on gay marriage remains a closely guarded secret. At last year’s Big Gay Out, he refused to answer any questions on the subject, telling a live radio audience that they’d need to “wait for his book” to find out his position.

David Shearer supports same-sex marriages, although qualified his support by saying he’d need to see the proposal first.

Colin Craig could not be reached for comment.

HAMISH IS GENERALLY WRONG. TELL HIM WHY ON TWITTER: @MISHVIEWS 

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