MARRIAGE DIGEST: Obama signals his views on 'gay marriage' could change
WASHINGTON (BP)--President Obama twice indicated during pre-Christmas interviews that his views on marriage could change and that he may eventually become the first sitting president publicly to support "gay marriage."
"My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this," he told reporters during a Dec. 22 press conference when asked about "gay marriage." He said he supports same-sex civil unions and then added, "... I think this is something that we're going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward."
Obama's views on "gay marriage" have frustrated both sides of the debate. Conservatives have viewed his stance with skepticism because, although he says he opposes "gay marriage," he has also opposed every law that would stop its legalization. For instance, he opposed California Proposition 8 and he favors the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the option of not recognizing another state's "gay marriage" laws.
The nation's homosexual groups want Obama to back "gay marriage" -- a move they believe would dramatically help their cause. They note that when running for Illinois state senator in the late 1990s, Obama actually backed "gay marriage" before changing his position.
Obama also gave a pre-Christmas interview with the homosexual magazine Advocate, his first one-on-one talk with a homosexual publication since he's been president. Asked about the marriage issue, he told the magazine:
"[L]ike a lot of people, I'm wrestling with this. My attitudes are evolving on this. I have always firmly believed in having a robust civil union that provides the rights and benefits under the law that marriage does. I've wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples."
Obama said he would like to see the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) overturned in Congress but acknowledged such a scenario faces an uphill battle with Republicans controlling Congress beginning in January. The Advocate asked Obama whether his administration might decide not to defend DOMA in federal court. There are a handful of lawsuits against DOMA, and the Obama Justice Department has provided what conservative groups view as a weak defense of the 1996 law, which is critical in preventing "gay marriage" from being legalized nationwide.
"I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options," Obama answered. "My preference wherever possible is to get things done legislatively because I think it -- it gains a legitimacy, even among people who don't like the change, that is valuable.
"... I'm always looking for a way to get it done, if possible, through our elected representatives. That may not be possible in DOMA's case. That's something that I think we have to strategize on over the next several months."
Vice President Joe Biden also chimed in about "gay marriage" during a pre-Christmas interview, telling ABC News he believes "there is an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage."
"Gay marriage" is legal only in five states, and a majority of states have prohibited it within their respective constitutions. It has lost in every state -- 31 in all -- where it appeared on the ballot.
Supporters of the traditional definition of marriage warn that "gay marriage" legalization will negatively affect all of society, impacting everything from the tax-exempt status of religious organizations to the way private businesses are operated to what is taught in elementary schools.
WITH DADT DEFEATED, MARRIAGE LAWS NEXT? -- With the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell law on the verge of being repealed, some of the nation's top homosexual leaders are focusing on legalizing "gay marriage" nationwide, The New York Times reported Dec. 19.
A new group, Equality Matters, is being formed and will launch in January with the goal of promoting "gay marriage." The group is a spinoff of another liberal group, Media Matters. Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Clinton, will lead it, The Times said.
"We will celebrate this important victory for five minutes, and then we have to move on, because we are the last group of Americans who are discriminated against in federal law and there is a lot of work to do," Socarides was quoted as saying.
Media Matters founder David Brock said Equality Matters would "expose right-wing bigotry and homophobia wherever we find it" and "stiffen the spines of progressives."
Michael Foust is an associate editor of Baptist Press. The Southern Baptist Convention has a ministry to homosexuals. Find more information at www.sbcthewayout.com.