The Democratic angle: Obama and the LGBT Community
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At this year’s Democratic National Convention, nearly every speech had at least one reference to the Democratic Party’s new support of samesex marriage. At the convention, the Democratic National Committee was the first party to officially adopt a platform that endorsed same-sex marriage.
The support of marriage equality and the LGBT community in general came after President Barak Obama announced that he supported samesex marriage. Many in the LGBT community viewed this as a major step by the president, who had several years before announcing that he was evolving on the issue, but could not say that he had a strong stance upon it.
Obama’s announcement came after several of his cabinet members and his vice president, Joe Biden, announced their support for samesex marriage. Obama was originally expected to make the announcement on “The View,” but after receiving criticism about those close to him announcing their support, Obama made his announcement on May 9.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.” Obama even brought his own Christian faith into explaining his stance.
“The thing at the root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule – you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated,” Obama said, “And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”
There has been much debate around whether or not Obama made this announcement because it was the right thing to do or because he had certain political aims. Many argue that Obama already has the firm support of the LGBT community. After all, Obama did repeal the military’s“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy, and he decided that his administration would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act that was signed by former President Bill Clinton, who has since admitted regret for signing the act.
Those who believe it was a political aim reference the growing support for same-sex marriage in the United States. For the first time, it is believed that a majority of the U.S. population actually supports same-sex marriage. This is solidified by younger voters replacing older voters. Support for same-sex marriage is much higher in younger generations than older ones, suggesting that support for marriage equality will only grow in the future.
Polls have found that support for marriage equality is higher in demographics such as independent, Hispanic and female voters. One could argue that Obama hopes to gain support in these areas through this announcement. Also, polls suggest that the majority of Democrats, around 60 percent, actually support same-sex marriage.
In this way, Obama could be solidifying the support of his own party. The LGBT community has also been entering the mainstream media in popular television shows. Examples of thriving same-sex couples can be found all over television, and it is only logical that this represents some of the social issues being talked about.
Marriage equality is a major issue in the United States, and political candidates will not be able to slip around this issue for much longer. The Republican National Convention was nearly the opposite of the Democratic National Convention. There were no openly gay speakers on stage and there was minimal discussion of LGBT issues.
The DNC, on the other hand, had several openly gay speakers, LGBT organizational support and plenty of discussion about LGBT issues. Clearly, one of the parties is avoiding this issue. Whether you believe Obama made this announcement because it was morally right or for political gains, he now has the clear support of the LGBT community, who make up a strong base of some of his strongest supporters and donators.
He will officially go down in history as the first president in office to declare that gay men and lesbians should be able to marry, which is believed to be the final major civil rights battle that the United States will see for years to come.