A recent Gallup poll indicates that the president’s support for extending the right of marriage to same-sex couples isn’t popular with voters. Critics also claim that this endorsement was purely a political ploy, perhaps forgetting that same-sex marriage is an issue that will affect countless Americans and their families.
President Barack Obama’s decision to support same-sex marriage was not an easy one; this issue is extremely controversial — across partisan lines and across the country. With the political climate changing almost daily on multiple issues, public opinion can be an intimidating factor when it comes to shaping policy. In today’s tumultuous political arena, only one thing is clear: It’s hard to do the right thing and stand up for what you believe in, especially when you are the president of the United States.
No one said that the road to equality would be easy. The fight for civil rights never is. When women wanted the right to vote more than 90 years ago, they fought for years to make that vision a reality. When the Civil Rights Era came upon our nation, even the most peaceful protestors were arrested because of the dreams that were once written by Thomas Jefferson: that all men and women are created equally. However, even though there were many opposing forces, we decided to move forward as a nation and do the right thing — extend civil rights to all in order to ensure that every person had an equal right to participate in our democracy.
LBGT marriage equality is no different. If we are a nation that believes in equality of our people, then we should not put restrictions on whom a person can or cannot marry. LGBT equality is one of the most defining civil rights issues of our generation.
Obama had already begun to pave the path for LGBT equality before this announcement was made. He declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and also advocated replacing the DOMA with the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have provided benefits to same-sex couples.
Even with those steps, the fight for LGBT equality is far from over. In North Carolina, conservative voters at the polls voted for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being “between a man and a woman.” Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened just in North Carolina. More than 30 states have banned same-sex unions, Florida being one of them. This is why we needed a strong supporter of LGBT equality at the federal level. This is also why we should commend Obama for taking a stand on this contentious issue, regardless of the political climate.
The decision to support same-sex marriage is a landmark in our history no matter what the polls say. As the first president to support same-sex marriage, Obama has opened up the doors for future political figures to finish paving the road to LGBT equality. Obama’s support is only one step in this journey. When those who are brave enough decide to stand up in the face of adversity, it is our job to stand behind them with our complete support.