Nov 7, 2008

Does Obama oppose same-sex marriage?

A commenter to this post keeps insisting on false equivalences based on Obama's stated lack of support for gay marriage. Bullshit. First, the obvious: Obama spoke clearly against California's Proposition 8, which proves that he is even less supportive of opposition to gay marriage. But let's think about this issue a bit deeper. Obama could support gay marriage all he wanted, but there is nothing he could do as president to institute it. Marriage is not a matter of federal policy. At least, it is not supposed to be; however, conservatives (who are for "states' rights" when the states are bigoted, but apparently not otherwise) have tried to change the Constitution to define marriage as heterosexual only. And back in 1996, when the public opinion was much less enlightened, they passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with significant bipartisan support. So what is Obama's position on DOMA?

Here's Glenn Greenwald:
Some appear not to know that a candidate (named "Barack Obama") who has repeatedly and emphatically vowed to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act -- and who called it an "abhorrent law" -- just won a national election in a landslide. And, in the very widely watched Vice-Presidential debate, this is what his Vice Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said:
Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. . . .

It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do. . . . there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple.
That's what repeal of Section 3 of DOMA would enable -- treating opposite-sex and same-sex couples exactly equally. That's all it would do; it would not re-define "marriage."
So in every way that matters, the Obama-Biden administration is committed (in the sense of clearly stated campaign promises) to equal rights for same-sex couples. True, they will not force the individual states to allow same-sex couples to marry (And how could they? The President has no such constitutional authority.) but they have clearly promised not to stand in the way of same-sex marriage when states choose to allow it.

No comments: