President Obama must be very relieved right now — he’s finally had the opportunity to sign legislation overturning the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which has been a major topic of contention with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Since LGBT people were big supporters of his presidential campaign, and have been cranky at the slow progress on LGBT issues, this is definitely a big win for Mr. Obama.
Next up: taking on the even more controversial subject of same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act.
On the heels of signing the DADT repeal legislation, the President is now addressing his evolving views on legalized same-sex marriage. While he says that he still considers “marriage” to be a union between a man and a woman, though he fully supports civil unions that are legally equivalent to marriage in everything except name, he admits that it’s something he still give consideration to.
“I’ve wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. … But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples. … I have been struck — let me take the former — repealing DOMA, getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] done, those are things that should be done. I think those are natural next steps legislatively.
“As I said before, I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options. My preference wherever possible is to get things done legislatively because I think it — it gains a legitimacy, even among people who don’t like the change, that is valuable.”
Of course, his personal views are one thing, but the president did point out that with the upcoming change of political representation in Congress, it would be more difficult to achieve significant change to legislation affecting LGBT people once the Republicans are in control of the House and have a larger presence in the Senate. However, he did rightfully point out that the American public’s views towards the gay community “are changing rapidly.”
One step at a time. I look forward to the day years from now when people look back and wonder why folks tried so hard to keep LGBT Americans from being treated equally under the eyes of the law.