After two years of “evolving” thoughts on same-sex marriage, President Obama today gave unequivocal support for legalizing gay marriage.
In an interview with ABC News, Obama said:
“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,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and, frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Obama’s comments, which many saw as long overdue, come on the heels of North Carolina voters passing a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage—the 30th state to adopt such a ban.
On this one, I agree with Obama. And religious folks should too. As I wrote after voting no on California’s Proposition 8:
Yes or no I could find a Christian minister to support my vote. But on an issue like same-sex marriage, I don’t think it matters whether I believe God is bothered by homosexuality. Proposition 8 has to do with fundamental rights—limiting them, that is. Marriage, despite what we always hear, is not a religious convention. It is a cultural convention. And the words “sanctity of marriage,” to my mind, have more to do with tax breaks and hospital visitation than ordaining a relationship before God.
As an evangelical Christian—as someone who, uncomfortable as it is to sometimes say this, reads in the Bible that homosexuality is a “perversion”—I don’t believe it is the job of government to legislate based on religion. We’ve seen how that works out.
Simply allowing gays to marry is about equality—it requires only action by the state, not by ministers or others who are opposed to participating in gay marriage ceremonies.