Equivocal no longer, US President Barack Obama has declared his support for gay marriage in a historic announcement that instantly elevated a polarising social issue to a more prominent role in the 2012 race for the White House.
On a personal level, its good to see Obama to have the guts to say what I suspect has been his actual position for a long time. It is a position I agree with (except I would probably not have the state involved in marriage at all, and just have the state register partnerships and allow people to call it a marriage if they want to, under whatever religion they may follow).
What is interesting is the potential political impact of Obama’s announcement. The US is split around 50/50 on this issue, but those against are vehemently against and will be highly motivated to turn out and vote if the election is pitched as a referendum on the gay marriage issue.
Of course it is in fact a decision for states, not the Federal Government, but Presidents appoint judges who rle on the constitutionality of various laws for and against gay marriage.
But Obama has the future on his side. He noted:
Obama touched on that in the interview.
He said he sometimes talks with college Republicans on his visits to campuses, and while they oppose his policies on the economy and foreign policy, “when it comes to same sex equality, or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are more comfortable with it.”
There is a huge difference of views on issues such as gay marriage and gay adoption by age. Under 30s tend to be massively in favour and over 60s massively opposed. That indicates that with the passage of time, there will be a clear majority in favour. But that may not be the case in 2012.
So a bold risk for Obama to announce this in election year, and I await with interest to see how it impacts the US elections.