Barack Obama has come out in favor of same-sex marriage in the United States. He made the announcement on television on Wednesday, saying it was his personal opinion and the result of his “evolving” way of thinking over the past two years. It occurred after his vice president, Joe Biden, took a similar position three days beforehand. Obama is the first sitting US president to make such an endorsement. Bill Clinton said he was against gay marriage, and signed the Defense of Marriage Act — something he later said he regretted. We have to wait and see what the consequences are, because Obama, foreseeably, won’t have a majority in Congress to abolish the act he once supported, which leaves the gay marriage decision to be decided by each state.
The day Obama made his announcement, 60 percent of voters in North Carolina cast ballots in favor of banning same-sex marriages in their state. There are only 20 out of the 50 states of the union where no such prohibition exists. Nevertheless, it will be up to the US Supreme Court to decide on the issue. A ruling by a California federal court judge, who considered that such prohibitions violate the country’s equal rights laws, has been working its way up through the legal system.
In this election year, Obama is taking a big risk by backing this controversial issue. But he also knows that public opinion on gay marriage has swung more rapidly than expected. In 2005, there was a clear majority who said they were against same-sex marriages, but in 2012 there are now more people who say they favor it — especially among women and young voters, who are considered to be part of Obama’s strong re-election base. The US president has already ended the discrimination of homosexuals in the military and had come out in favor of civil unions. While the Afro-American minority doesn’t approve of Obama’s change of opinion, winning their vote won’t be determined by this issue, but instead on how this first black president will be able to help improve their living standards. While Republican candidate Mitt Romney has come out against it, cracks are beginning to appear among his camp.
There is nothing naive about Obama’s position. In a race that has been solely focused on the economy, the demand linking the historical battles for civil rights equalities has now surfaced. Although the same-sex marriage issue hasn’t moved masses, it worries very influential sectors, including his campaign fundraisers.
Institutionalizing same-sex marriage, in which Spain was a pioneer, is gaining momentum throughout the Western world. It would be good if the Popular Party (PP) gets with the times, withdraws the appeal it filed with the Constitutional Court against Spain’s same-sex marriage law, and leaves things the way they are. This would also help the so-called “Spanish brand.”