Story by: Spencer Grekoff
President Barack Obama marked a huge moment in the same-sex marriage debate two week ago, when he became the first president of the United States to endorse the right of gay couples to marry when he was in office. Is it now time to legalize same sex marriages across the entire country?
I think yes, Personally I have no problem with gay marriage; you should be able to marry whom ever you want. I mainly feel this way because it doesn’t affect me at all. What others want to do doesn’t bother me at all and I’m glad Iowa allows same sex marriage; it is what’s right. Nationwide the support for same-sex marriages has increased dramatically over the last sixteen years. A Gallup poll in 1996 showed that just 27 percent of Americans supported marriages between gay couples. By 2012 the number of people that are for gay marriage has almost doubled. 50 percent of Americans favored same sex marriages while 48 percent opposed it.
The stance by Obama, while just symbolic at this point, is the latest he has done to advocate for gay rights. In 2011, Obama told the federal government to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman. Before that, Obama also signed a bill that repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell,” law, which prohibited openly gay men and women to enter the armed forces.
Obama took his stance in favor of same-sex marriage after years of saying his views were evolving. He said during an interview with ABC News on May 9, “I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient.”
In the same ABC News interview, Obama said that he would not be doing federal legislation, and that the issue of same-sex marriages should be decided on the state level. “I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level, because historically this has not been a federal issue what’s recognized as marriage.” There is, however, a law on the federal books that defines what is recognized as marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act, which, though unenforced, it is still technically the law.
Equal rights for all Americans should not be decided on a state-by-state basis. Same-sex marriage is a civil right that needs to be enshrined at the federal level.
There are signs though that lawmakers starting to move on the subject, both for good and bad now that Obama has articulated his opinion. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation that would block the Justice Department from using federal funds to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. Then, on Thursday the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, suggested that the upper chamber of Congress might move to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The first step toward marriage equality should be the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act; this would help get more states moving toward allowing same sex marriage in my opinion. A key player in this step effort is Dianne Feinstein, who authored the legislation for the repeal, but that legislation has been moving slowly since she authorized it.
After repealing this shameful law that openly discriminates against same-sex couples, Congress needs to write and approve legislation that solidifies the rights of gay couples across the entire nation to marry.
Obama is correct that same-sex couples deserve the same rights. But it should not have to be decided on a state-by-state level like it is now. That was not an appropriate way to protect the civil rights of African-Americans, why would it be an appropriate way to protect people’s right to marry who ever they want to. It clearly didn’t work out the last time the Government tried doing it that way.