Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chicago newspaper reports Obama's previous support of marriage for same-sex couples

With less than a week until Barack Obama becomes the 44th president, an LGBT newspaper in Chicago has published statements the incoming commander-in-chief made in support of marriage for same-sex couples.

Obama expressed what the Windy City Times described in a press release as "unequivocal support for gay marriage" in an answer to questions Trudy Ring asked during his Illinois state Senate campaign in 1996. This position counters more recent statements that indicate he no longer supports marriage for gays and lesbians. Is this an example of a politically motivated shift?

The answer to the question is almost certainly yes. A clear case can be made the majority of self-professed moderate Americans support the expansion of rights to LGBT Americans. Marriage for same-sex couples, however, remains something the majority of this crucial political constituency does not back. Polls indicate more Americans support gay and lesbian nuptials, but the fact remains this issue continues to garner significant opposition.

Obama's message of hope resonated with the millions of Americans who voted for him on Nov. 4, but at the end of the day he is a politician who recognizes the need to nuance his positions in order to maintain crucial constituencies. His shift away from marriage for same-sex couples is arguably a disappointment to many within the movement for LGBT rights and the broader progressive community, but it is reflective of his intention to govern the country from the middle.

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