President Barack Obama has completed his evolution and come out in full support of same sex marriage. Buzz and I applaud his decision on the civil rights issue of our time. Whether it will hurt him or help him politically is yet to be seen, but the President has come down on the right side of this issue.
We are reminded of President John Kennedy's declaration in June, 1963 that Civil Rights for African-Americans is a moral issue. It was not, at the time, an easy decision. Kennedy needed the support in Southern states in a 1964 re-election bid, and in 1963 a majority of Southerners stood right by Alabama Governor George Wallace when he said "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
Public support has finally breached the 50 percent threshold in Gallup's latest survey. This is the first time Gallup has shown a majority in favor of legalization of same sex marriage. Support has risen from 27 percent support in 1996 to 53 percent support in the May, 2012 survey.
32 states have adopted some sort of same sex marriage ban over the past ten years, including Tuesday's North Carolina constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, but a number of these same sex marriage bans were adopted when public opinion was not very gay friendly.
Republicans say Obama's announcement is a flip flop and done solely for political reasons, but then again, that's what they say about every Obama decision these days. Obama's announcement was a long time coming, but his actions over the past few years have shown the Obama's support of gay rights is a lot more than just words.
Obama has instructed the justice department not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and repealed the military Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. His same sex marriage announcement is certainly not a flip flop, and it is certainly not the politically safe move.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has taken a polar opposite position, not only opposing gay marriage, but also opposing the more moderate "civil unions" stance. If anyone is taking a political expedient position, it is Romney, who still has luke warm support from the conservative wing of the GOP.
As far as a flip flop, in 1994, as Romney was seeking the Log Cabin Republican's endorsement (the gay and lesbian GOP group,) he sat down with Richard Tafel, the group's founder. "I'm with you on this stuff," Tafel recalled Romney saying. "I'll be better than Ted Kennedy."
Time will only tell if Obama's announcement helps him politically, but the May 9, 2012 declaration of Obama's support for same sex marriage will go down in history as a momentous and courageous moment in Civil Rights.
Fifty years from now, Americans will look back at Obama's announcement just as many look back at John Kennedy's 1963 Civil Rights speech, and say "what's the big deal."
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