May 14, 2012
By Matt Baume
Obama endorses marriage equality. We’ll look at what that means for LGBT Americans and for the future. Colorado’s civil unions bill looked dead in the water last week, but this week the Governor’s found a way to give it one last shot at passing in 2012.
Well the big news this week is President Obama supporting marriage equality. Like a lot of Americans, Obama came to support equality after meeting gay and lesbian citizens and seeing how comfortable young people are with LGBT families.
We won’t know the full effect of his announcement for some time. But we can already see an impact on peoples’ lives around the country. As AFER Board President Chad Griffin said, “For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, their President’s words provide genuine hope that they will be the first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream.”
AFER’s lead co-counsel Ted Olson had similar remarks. He said, “President Obama’s words remind us that marriage and equality are universal values that unite us all. They remind us that we are all — as a People and a Nation — striving to form a more perfect Union.”
By standing up for our rights, Obama is setting an example for other politicians’ evolution on marriage. One day after the announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the highest-ranking Mormon in the US government, announced that “people should be able to marry whomever they want.” He added even he’d voted in the past to ban marriage equality, but now he’ll vote for it.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is another politician who struggled with the issue for years before shepherding a marriage equality bill in New York. This week he tied Obama’s announcement to “the march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776.”
Public support on marriage is growing rapidly. This week, a Gallup poll became the ninth national survey to show that a majority support the freedom to marry. We’ve seen a lot of major milestones in the fight for marriage lately, and Obama’s announcement is one of the big ones.
Now this policy announcement isn’t tied to any particular legislation. But the first law for which it might inspire more bold stances from legislators could be the civil unions bill in Colorado. The legislative session ended last week before lawmakers could vote on the measure, so it looked like there was no hope of passing it until next year. But Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has announced that he’ll call a special session starting this week. The votes are there to pass the bill, and the Governor says he’ll sign it. The only obstacle now is House leadership like Speaker Frank McNulty, who says he opposes debate.
We’ll be following the Colorado situation closely this week — you can subscribe on YouTube to get regular updates on the fight for marriage equality. And visit AFER.org for more on the federal fight to overturn Prop 8.