What Will Be The Legacy Of Obama’s Embrace of Marriage Equality? [Reader Forum]

The Colorlines.com community reacts with mixed feelings to Obama's historic statement.

By Channing Kennedy May 14, 2012

Last week was dominated by news about the political battle for queer rights. First, in North Carolina, the passage of Amendment 1 made same-sex marriage illegal (some more); Kenyon Farrow has a full analysis of the activism on both side of the battle, and NC group SONG says the organizing has made them stronger for the next battle. Then, following Joe Biden’s "gaffe" in which he stated his support for marriage equality, President Obama came out in support as well — becoming the first sitting president in U.S. history to do so. As Jorge Rivas writes, some of the credit goes to Michelle, Sasha, and Malia.

Within the Colorlines.com community, reactions to Obama’s statement were mixed. It’s tempting, and not inaccurate, to point to the immediate political vagueness; Obama’s not calling for federal action to overturn amendments like North Carolina’s, and the most immediate benefit is to highlight Romney’s backwards-looking position. But the power of what Obama’s historic statement represents, to acknowledge and legitimize and to de-politicize queer families, must be appreciated. Here’s what you had to say.

Myles Marcus:

That’s nice, but he also seemed okay with individual states making their own laws (ex. that one in North Carolina). A step forward nonetheless.

Regina Mullen:

Carefully worded as a personal issue after Biden tested the waters… now what?

Nancy Bell:

I am happy for gay couples and families, (including several loved members of my own extended family). 🙂 I’m happy that we have a president and vice president that support their right to choose a mate of their own. It has not been that long since interracial marriages were against the law in this country and "miscegenation" was an attempt to legislate limits on intermingling between the races. I am happy miscegenation is no longer a legal issue, whether or not there is still prejudice.

I am proud of significant parts of our country for climbing out of Middle-Ages’ thinking and recognizing individual rights by allowing same-sex marriages. It is not a question of whether or not we feel like gay marriages are a good idea, but rather we should be asking, "Do we have a right to strip anyone of their personal liberties, based on their sexual orientation or any other reason?" I think not.

Toro Castaño:

Is marriage the barometer of equality?

Rick Capodicasa Kappra, following some dissenting commenters on our Facebook page:

Wow, the homophobes are out in full force on Colorlines. Glad this doesn’t involve rights of people of color…oh wait, it does.

[…] He said "for me personally", which I think was a cop out. He should have made it broader as in this is what America stands for, because it is. We are not a country that votes to take rights away from people. At least according to our mythology.

William Dean Luke:

just another campaign lie.


Ha, right. Because declaring support for gay marriage in a country where significant parts of the population still ban it is an obvious campaign strategy.

Becky Johnson:

For those who are saying he’s a cop out — we need to give him a break. Part of getting elected to a seat where you can make changes is "playing the game"… sadly, most politicians who are honest do not make it far. I believe that President Obama would like to see LGB marriage and rights across the board, but he has been playing the field, which he has to do in order to win elections. And I believe his latest statement is rather courageous; he could loose a huge percentage of support with his statement supporting equal marriage rights — he is obviously taking a gamble.

If he doesn’t win the election, he won’t be able to fight for progressive changes. So don’t say he hasn’t done enough or is a copout; he has been and is being smart.

Angi Renee:

People will never be satisfied. He states his support and there is belly aching about how it’s done. Why don’t we just elect the opposition and see how happy everyone will be then. This president has done more FOR THE PEOPLE than anyone so far… and takes racial crap every ‘D’ day. Celebrate for goodness sake!

When has this ever happened… EVER! Chickenshit Clinton put DOMA in action, complain about that!

Angela CineSoulatina:

It’s not about one issue vs another. All the issues are important but if you notice the Republicans are using gay rights, abortion and contraception to bring out the religious right they have really nothing to say about job creation. Gays, Blacks, women and immigrants are being pitted against everyone else. In the end only billionaires will win if we let this divide us.


Malia and Sasha — you sistas rock. President Dad — stop hiding behind the kids. You’re the grown-up.

Sis Marpessa:

i hope Sasha and Malia speak w/him about Stop and Frisk and mass incarceration over dinner sometime REAL, real soon!!!

Amanda G:

Maybe they can shift his position on drone assassinations. No? OK.

Agnes Johnson:

Too bad Sasha, Malia and all the Churches couldn’t reach him for Troy Anthony Davis.

Joseph P. Rose:

He didn’t shift his beliefs or opinion; he has always supported gay marriage when it is politically expedient to him.

Jesse Crass:

When will he start listening to the queer and trans community about what queer and trans people need? hm…

And closing us out, Irasema Cavazos:

Don’t care how he came about the right decision — only that he did.

Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.