Editorial, Globe and Mail, May 10, 2012
There is something very moving about President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage, voiced in an interview on Wednesday. It is an act of moral leadership.
President Obama took a risk that no political leader in Canada ever took. The courts in this country moved out front of the politicians. Appeal courts in several provinces made gay marriage a fait accompli; no prime minister did so. In the U.S., some state courts have ruled that it is discriminatory to ban gay marriage, but gay marriage was still a long way from becoming the status quo in most of the country. There is no consensus in the United States in support of same-sex marriage. Gays were allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military only last year.
Say what you want about President Obama’s political calculations – while polls show a plurality of U.S. voters now support gay marriage, a sign of enormous social change, it is hard to believe most of those supporters will base their vote next fall on the President’s declaration. Those who abhor the notion of gay marriage may be more likely to get out and vote to try to stop it. It is not often that a presumptive favourite takes a bold risk right up front.
The effect of President Obama’s support will be felt around the world. Europe is far from united on this issue, and there are still many parts of the world in which it is not safe to be gay.
In the U.S., President Obama’s words will ring mightily, whether he is re-elected or not. (His probable Republican rival, Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage, and accepts civil unions only up to a point.) As New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said, “No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people.”
Gay marriage represents a social change unthinkable only a generation ago. Its logic is inexorable – the logic of full recognition of gays and lesbians as members of the human family, with equal claims to love and permanence – and the President, by adding his voice in support, has given it enormous moral and political force.
We strongly concur with both the Globe editorial, and with the President of the United States.