Ryan Lee, Associate Writer: News & Current Events
The pressure on President Barack Obama to support marriage equality for same-sex couples may be surging to the point that Obama’s administration is considering whether to endorse the issue before the November elections.
A series of events over the past few months month have been a political manifestation of Obama’s infamously “evolving” position on same-sex marriage, bringing the issue to the forefront of the president’s re-election campaign.
- At the winter meeting for the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent an e-mail to his colleagues soliciting their support for “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” a new campaign from the gay rights group Freedom to Marry.* Villaraigosa is the co-chair of the gay-friendly initiative, and is also the co-chair of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, where a tempestuous battle is shaping up over same-sex marriage.
- Earlier this month, Villaraigosa was among the dozens of prominent Democrats who expressed support for the party to adopt a plank in its 2012 platform endorsing same-sex marriage. Two of Obama’s re-election campaign co-chairs, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and former Sen. Russ Feingold, have also come out in support of Democrats affirming gay marriage in their platform, as has House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 22 Democratic U.S. senators.
- Also in March, Obama ventured into the same-sex marriage debate by opposing a state constitutional amendment to ban gay nuptials that North Carolina voters will decide May 8. While his opposition to the amendment is not surprising, Obama could have avoided weighing in on the topic by deferring it as a state issue. That he would speak out against the proposal in a Southern state might represent Obama testing the waters to see if same-sex marriage is as hazardous as party leaders expect.
- The LGBT newspaper the Washington Blade reported last week that “active conversations” are occurring within the White House about whether Obama should endorse same-sex marriage, and “that the chances of him making an announcement are about 50-50.”
- Later in the week, the Washington Post jumped on the story, with an anonymous Democratic adviser noting, a gay marriage endorsement “would help in terms of reinvigorating some of the excitement from 2008. It’s not just about gay people. There’s an upside with the progressive community and young people in general. Obama’s advisers are in listening mode.”
The White House has dismissed chatter about Obama possibly endorsing marriage as “uninformed speculation,” while refusing to close the door on the matter. Asked about support for same-sex marriage being included in the Democrats’ platform, senior White House adviser David Plouffe sidestepped the question by replying: ““We don’t even have a platform committee yet, much less a platform. We are going to work through the platform process.”
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is lesbian and also co-chairs the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” campaign, said last Friday that she doubts Obama will change his stance by the November election.
“I would be shocked to see it,” she said.
*Pine Lake Mayor Kathie deNobriga, who is lesbian, is the only mayor in Georgia to join the “Mayors for Marriage Equality” campaign.