President Obama is indeed a profile in courage. He has made history yet again with his announcement that he supports full marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Bravo, Mr. President.
Now comes all the warnings and predictions of what this will mean for the election in November. One of those dire warnings is that this will hurt him with his supporters among Latino communities. This will not be the case and here's why:
President Obama’s decision to endorse marriage equality undoubtedly entails some political risk, but recent polls suggest that public opinion is increasingly on his side.
According to surveys included in the PollingReport.com database, an average of 50 percent of American adults support same-sex marriage rights while 45 percent oppose it, based on an average of nine surveys conducted in the past year.
Before Barack Obama became the first president to support marriage equality, he was the first president to be so thoroughly surrounded by people who support marriage for same-sex couples. Many of his donors are gay, and so are quite a few of his staff members, including his social secretary and the aides who made this moving video about their lifelong quests to accept themselves and to be accepted.
But how influential has the president’s wife — the person closest to him — been?
Like many conservative Republicans, Mitt Romney is opposed not only to marriage equality, but also to the civil unions that many states have adopted as an alternative to full marital rights for gay couples.
Now that President Obama, long a supporter of civil unions, has publicly embraced marriage for same-sex couples, the question of precisely what legal status and protections should be granted to gay couples is emerging as an issue of the starkest possible contrast between the two presidential candidates.
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.
A call for a special legislative session by Gov. John W. Hickenlooper could revive a bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado. The bill died late Tuesday night after lawmakers reached an impasse over whether it would be heard on the floor of the House of Representatives before the legislative session concluded on Wednesday.