President Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview with ABC News that he supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already trying to raise money off the announcement. Here are the president’s remarks:
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
Hardly anybody is surprised that this is the president’s actual position. He actually filled out a candidates’ questionnaire saying he supported same-sex marriage in 1996, which he subsequently disavowed. As president, Obama has tried to straddle the issue for reasons having to do with his coalition. But Joe Biden forced his hand and his position had become untenable in a party that increasingly supports same-sex marriage.
Obama and his advisers obviously calculated that the damage among black voters would be so minimal that it was worth making this announcement to please donors and excite the rest of his base, which has been waiting for him to endorse gay marriage. Black voters have long held more socially conservative views than the politicians who represent them, without the elected officials facing any repercussions. Perhaps the president’s position will move black public opinion on the issue somewhat.
But Obama stopped short of arguing that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. He said he favored leaving the matter up to the states.