Yesterday, during an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
It’s no secret the President has gone through some soul-searching on this issue. He’s talked to the First Lady about it, like so many couples do. He’s heard from folks—gay and lesbian friends, staff members in long-term, loving relationships, as well as brave young servicemen and women he got to know through the fight to end Don’t, Ask Don’t Tell.
He’s sat around his kitchen table with Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. As the President said during the interview, “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 of perspective -- not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to eyes of the law.”
In the end, the President said, he believes it's important to "treat others the way you would want to be treated."We need to recognize that people are going to have differing views on marriage and those views, even if we disagree strongly, should be respected.
Newspapers across the country commented on yesterday’s news. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
New York Times: “It Has Always Taken Strong National Leadership To Expand Equal Rights In This Country, And It Has Long Been Obvious That Marriage Rights Are No Exception. President Obama Offered Some Of That Leadership On Wednesday.” “It has always taken strong national leadership to expand equal rights in this country, and it has long been obvious that marriage rights are no exception. President Obama offered some of that leadership on Wednesday. ‘I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,’ Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News that the White House arranged for the purpose of giving Mr. Obama a forum to say just that….Mr. Obama consciously presented his change of position (he used to favor so-called civil unions but not marriage) as a personal journey. He said he thought about ‘members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together,’ and 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.’ That process will seem familiar to Americans of his and older generations who have reached the same place, or are still getting there. Polling shows that younger Americans have firmly supported same-sex marriage for some time. Mr. Obama said denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples ‘doesn’t make sense’ to his daughters. ‘Frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective,’ he said.” [The New York Times, 5/10/12]
USA Today: “Symbolically, Obama's Comment To ABC News That ‘Same-Sex Couples Should Be Able To Get Married’ Is An Important, Even Historic, Marker Of How Far Public Opinion Has Shifted.” “Symbolically, Obama's comment to ABC News that ‘same-sex couples should be able to get married’ is an important, even historic, marker of how far public opinion has shifted. No previous president has endorsed gay marriage….To a large degree, Obama's shift on the subject exemplifies the nation's evolving views. Same-sex marriage is an idea that appears to be coming. (Support is at 71% for people ages 18-29 and just 21% for those 80 and older, Gallup found.).” [USA Today, 5/10/12]
Boston Globe: “President Obama’s Support For Gay Marriage Marks The End Of An Evolution For The President And, To An Extent, For The Country. Obama Based His Change Of Heart On Simple Fairness...His Commitment To Gay Marriage Puts Him On The Right Side Of History, And Demonstrates His Willingness To Embrace The Future.” “President Obama’s support for gay marriage marks the end of an evolution for the president and, to an extent, for the country. Obama based his change of heart on simple fairness — ‘when I think of members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think of soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors. . .’ — and that is the crux of the matter: Respect for the principle of equal treatment, and an acknowledgment that the human yearning for love can lead to an equally human yearning for family….His commitment to gay marriage puts him on the right side of history, and demonstrates his willingness to embrace the future. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and Obama’s conversion should be a source of pride to himself and for the millions of backers of gay marriage who urged him on.” [The Boston Globe, 5/10/12]
New York Daily News: “In A National Conversation That Has Moved With Unprecedented Speed, Wednesday Was A Landmark: President Obama Pronounced Himself Personally Supportive Of Gay Marriage…Obama’s Statement, Personal Though It Is, May Move The Conversation Further.” “In a national conversation that has moved with unprecedented speed, Wednesday was a landmark: President Obama pronounced himself personally supportive of gay marriage….Now, speaking with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, he explained his shift by saying of himself and the First Lady: ‘We are both practicing Christians, and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing Himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.’ But he stopped short of declaring marriage equality a civil right — rightly leaving the issue for citizens and legislatures of states to sort out… Obama’s statement, personal though it is, may move the conversation further.” [New York Daily News, 5/10/12]
Kansas City Star: “In A National Conversation That Has Moved With Unprecedented Speed, Wednesday Was A Landmark: President Obama Pronounced Himself Personally Supportive Of Gay Marriage….The Time Is Clearly Turning. And For The First Time, The Millions Of Gay And Lesbian Americans Who Want Nothing Less Than The Full Privileges Of Citizenship Can Claim The President Of The United States As An Ally.” “In a national conversation that has moved with unprecedented speed, Wednesday was a landmark: President Obama pronounced himself personally supportive of gay marriage. In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News, Obama offered a well-crafted and nuanced explanation of how he transitioned from supporting legal rights and short of marriage for same-sex couples to endorsing legal nuptials….Unfortunately, 30 states, including Kansas and Missouri, have laws banning gay marriage. North Carolina joined the list on Tuesday with a public vote. But the time is clearly turning. And for the first time, the millions of gay and lesbian Americans who want nothing less than the full privileges of citizenship can claim the president of the United States as an ally.” [Kansas City Star, 5/10/12]
Baltimore Sun: “President Barack Obama's Announcement That He Supports Gay Marriage Is A Heartening Development In The Campaign For Equality, And It Is Commendable That He Made His View Public Before The November Election Rather Than Afterward.” “President Barack Obama's announcement that he supports gay marriage is a heartening development in the campaign for equality, and it is commendable that he made his view public before the November election rather than afterward…. So far, every state that has held a vote on gay marriage has rejected it. But Maryland could be the place where that streak ends, and President Obama can help. Talking about the issue might not do much to advance his electoral prospects (though it probably wouldn't hurt them much either). But it could do a great deal to advance the cause of justice.” [Baltimore Sun, 5/10/12]