Obama’s support for marriage equality does little for gay rights

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, you will have no doubt heard of President Barack Obama announcing his support of marriage equality.

While I have always been a relatively strong supporter of the President and applaud his declaration, it seems like a hollow victory, not only for the Obama administration, but unfortunately, for gay rights advocates as well.

Firstly, having been in office since January 2009, I am disappointed that it took until now for President Obama to finally make this announcement. This makes me question the motives behind his declaration.

Given the circumstances surrounding Obama’s announcement, it would seem he was forced into making it — especially after Vice-President Joe Biden’s declaration of support for marriage equality — it would have been political suicide for the President to remain silent on the issue.

While it is easy to be critical on the delay of Obama’s announcement, he should be commended for finally declaring his opinions to the public.

Obama’s reluctance to announce his position, however, is a relatively small concern in comparison to the larger issue, the issue of gay rights.

Despite Obama’s declaration in support of marriage equality, we have already seen that his position is virtually meaningless.

Shortly after Obama’s announcement, the State of North Carolina took it upon themselves to approve a constitutional amendment which effectively kills any hope for marriage equality in the state. North Carolina: where you can marry your first cousin, but not another member of the same sex.

Unfortunately, when the President announced his position on marriage equality, he also stated that he would allow individual states to maintain control over the definition of marriage.

As North Carolina has demonstrated, it proves that his much anticipated announcement is meaningless.

North Carolina is able to exercise this power due to the wording of the American constitution, which grants the states residual control over all areas not specifically outlined.

Unfortunately for all gay American citizens, marriage falls under the banner of state responsibility and while I would love to see it happen, it seems unlikely that the South will suddenly realize they have always been on the wrong side of history.

As such, Obama must go much further with his announcement and make this an overarching, national decision.

Like so many cases in American history, the forward-thinking liberals must force the southern states to quit living in the past.

But, despite the rather depressing tone of this column, there is one true point of hope.

For the first time in history, the majority of Americans are in favour of marriage equality.

Frankly, it took long enough, and the fact that support has now reached this level suggests that we may begin to, ever so slowly, see America grant gay citizens equal opportunity.

That aside, the truth remains that until Obama forces a constitutional amendment, giving the power of marriage to the federal government, we will see no change on the issue of marriage equality in the United States.

While Obama’s announcement represents an ideological win for the gay rights movement, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that his announcement will make any real change.

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