North Carolina recently secured its place as the most reprehensible state in the union by passing, in this enlightened year of 2012, an amendment to its state constitution that bans gay marriages and domestic partnerships indefinitely. Gay marriage was already illegal in the state, of course, but they had to stop those pesky activist judges from doing something “irrational.” This is not an uncommon sentiment — similar laws have been passed across the South. State legislatures have thrown the Establishment Clause out the window and have asked themselves, “What would Jesus do?” The answer they got was, apparently, “Deny basic human rights to people who are different from you.”
Despite all this, the gay rights movement has found an advocate from an unlikely source: the President of the United States. Recently, in an interview with ABC News, Barack Obama said, “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Fox News immediately labeled it a “war on marriage,” Facebook exploded with debates over the endorsement, and the unfriendings probably numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Some poor lady at a Nebraska town hall meeting embarrassed herself in front of the whole Internet when her rant — equal parts homophobic and schizophrenic — was caught on tape and went viral. Angry anti-gay advocates condemned the endorsement and tepidly pledged their support for Mitt Romney despite the fact that most of them had tepidly pledged support for Romney well before this incident. Meanwhile, Newsweek decided to up the controversy by running a cover labeling Obama “the first gay president,” which didn’t even make sense.
This election year will be the first with a pro-gay marriage candidate from a major party. It’s sure to be an important political football this year — a recent Gallup poll gave a roughly 50-50 split between Americans who support gay marriage and those who oppose it. However, this trend has been moving steadily from 27 percent in favor of gay marriage in 1996 to 53 percent in 2012. If this trend continues, in a few election cycles it may become as dead an issue as interracial marriages are today.
It’s inevitable that gay marriage will become generally accepted in society. Call Obama’s endorsement populist, a ploy to get him into the history books, just a re-election gimmick, or whatever, but it really does mark a historic point for gay rights. With the president’s re-election nearly a sure thing, owing to Romney’s lack of redeeming qualities, things are looking up for gay rights in America.
Justin Roczniak is a freshman majoring in civil engineering and can be reached at [email protected].