By Matt McQuaid
In a shocking turn of events yesterday, President Obama came out.
...for gay marriage. He came out in favor of gay marriage.
Obama, who had previously taken heat for walking a fine line on the issue, comes in the wake of Biden’s remarks over the weekend in favor of the initiative and recent action by North Carolina banning same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution.
Obama’s forward motion on the controversial issue may seem like a rather daring maneuver midway through an election, but in many ways it is a well calculated ploy. The amount of people who aren’t going to vote for Obama because of his support of same-sex marriage is negligible, as Barney Frank pointed out, and support during an election year will galvanize support from a well-funded movement at a time when the cost of running for the highest office in the land is at an all-time high.
Furthermore, coming out in favor of gay marriage helps court a voting bloc that propelled him to victory in 2008, and could be pivotal in deciding the next election: young people.
Just as our parent’s generation helped change attitudes towards race, young people today are helping to change attitudes about gender. Polls show that members of Gen Y overwhelmingly support gay marriage. By aligning himself with the views of 20-somethings, Obama is showing us that he gets our issues. It shows that he’s (at least a little) hip to social change, he’s in touch with the American people, and he appears willing to take strong stances on controversial issues. This strikes in glaring contrast to a certain other candidate who had in the past fought gay marriage tooth-and-nail in the first state in the nation to pass it and recently has had trouble appearing to be made of carbon matter.
Backing gay marriage is also an investment. Attitudes towards gay marriage are probably only going to get better, and as young people get older, accrue debt, and pay higher taxes, they tend to vote more. While their attitudes on economic issues might change, there’s no reason they’ll have a change of heart on civil rights issues. And when we go to the polls ten years from now, we aren’t going to want to get behind the same crotchety white guys with the archaic views of yesteryear.
Obama’s stance on gay marriage is admirable and a great step in the right direction. But as a civil rights issue, there is still a great deal of work to be done on gay marriage. If the North Carolina Amendment demonstrates anything, it’s that there is still a huge swathe of people in America who find bigotry towards gay Americans not only acceptable, but valuable. Promoting equality towards a disenfranchised segment of Americans requires fighting this mentality at its source.
Just as young people in the ‘60s led the charge to fight racial bigotry with freedom rides and sit-ins, it can be our generation that leads the charge towards equality for gay Americans. If there’s hope anywhere, it lies with the yout’s.
Photo by Obama for America
About Matt -- I'm a lifelong Democrat and writer of a politically-oriented column,"Banned in D.C." Hobbies include watching TV and listening to super-intense bands with mad-scary dudes that have tattoos and stuff.
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