What are Obama and Romney's views on gay marriage?
If you were living in America today, who would you vote for in the Presidential elections? Make no mistake, what happens in this election will affect you, me and the whole LGBT community. American had better get this right.
In the UK our three-party system has many drawbacks. One illustration of this is how young people are turned off party politics entirely. Party membership is down across the board, and attendance at party conferences dwindling. Instead of allying themselves to political parties, new voters tend to ally them with specific issues - be it global warming, human rights, or indeed gay marriage rights. But our political system forces us to compromise - the Tories may represent our views on one issue, Labour on another. Thus we are disenfranchised and democracy is impoverished.
In America the situation is, frankly, much worse, because there are just two parties to ally with. It's a straight fight between macho politicos. The parties simply need to convince voters that their guy is the good guy and the other guy is the bad guy.
What has all this to do with gay marriage? Well, at GDA as you might expect we are firmly in favour of gay marriage rights (see our previous blog posts). We believe in matrimony, even if not holy matrimony. Now, where America leads very often other countries follow so whether the US legitimises gay marriage is of tremendous importance to us all.
In a few states, gay marriage is already legal. However in others legal moves are afoot to specifically define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, closing the door to gay marriage legislation in those states for the foreseeable future.
If the US opens marriage universally, it would be difficult for other Western nations not to follow suit quite quickly. Fortunately in the UK we have all three parties firmly committed to a change in the law. The main opponent is the Church, but in Government and the Commons there is little opposition. It is more a question of when, not if.
In America the Church and right-wing politics are far more firmly allied, and the Christian right is an extremely vocal and powerful lobby. So, returning to my original question, if you were a gay man (whether single, dating or coupled-up) who would you vote for in the US elections? Let's do a quick round-up of the candidates views.
Barack Obama on gay marriage
Oct 2012: Obama has stated that gay marriage should be decided at a state level, not a country-wide level (thus neatly passing the buck): "For us to try to legislate federally into this area is probably the wrong way to go,"
May 2012: "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated equally. I've stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community. I thought civil unions would be sufficient. Over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and members of my staff who are in committed same-sex relationships, and soldiers fighting on my behalf, I just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to be able to confirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."
2012: Obama states his view on gay marriage were "evolving".
Vice President Joe Biden: "I am absolutely comfortable with gay marriage".
Mitt Romney on gay marriage
Dec 2006: "Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law."
May 2012: "Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."