Editorial: Supporting same-sex marriage

In the midst of one of the most important years for gay rights since the Stonewall Rebellion and the days of Harvey Milk, President Barack Obama came out in strong support of same sex marriage.

Activism promoting tolerance has experienced rapid growth with the initiation of the “It Gets Better” project, which was created to assure high school students of the bright future that lies ahead of them despite being bullied for their sexual preference.

Currently same sex marriage is legal in six states, including New York and Iowa, but it does not have recognition from the federal government.

At first it was not the president, but Vice President Joe Biden who stated his own opinion on the issue.

“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” said Vice President Biden.

However, after his vice president’s unexpected statements, the president did not immediately come out in full support of his second-in-command. Since his election, President Obama had only taken a strong stance against a proposed North Carolina state constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriages and civil unions and the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” policy in the U.S. military.

However he had not specifically supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, with a lukewarm endorsement of civil unions.

David Axlerod, the president’s senior campaign strategist, told reporters for the Chicago Tribune that Biden’s comments were “entirely consistent with the president’s position, which is that couples who are married, whether they’re gay or heterosexual couples, are entitled to the very same rights and the very same liberties.”

But that wasn’t exactly what gay rights activists had heard out of Biden’s mouth just a day earlier, and they seemed to like what Biden was saying a whole lot better.

“Any reasonable person watching that broadcast of Meet the Press yesterday walked away with the impression that Vice President Biden supported marriage equality,” said Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a group that lobbies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights, in a public statement.

However on May 9, Obama belatedly decided to offer a firm opinion of his own.

“I’ve just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” said President Obama in an interview with Robin Roberts of Good Morning, America.

In many ways, what Obama ultimately dictated during his ABC interview was the inevitable end to his “intellectual wandering.”

Hopefully this presidential support will evoke a greater sense of tolerance within Schreiber, allowing gay students to feel support not only from their teachers and peers but from the U.S. president.

The Schreiber Times supports Obama’s ultimate statement on the issue, despite risking political dissent in an election year. While this decision may cost him some conservative votes in the polls, it will hopefully earn him many more with his strong support for same-sex marriage.