|Was Obama’s declaration a political move?|
|Friday, 18 May 2012 15:17|
Time and again, people are confronted by the duplicity of their decisions. Too often, while the ultimate choice seems right to the decision maker, it can be both baffling and wrong to observers.
So when President Barack Obama made a surprising move announcing in a television interview his support for same-sex marriage, those opposed were immediately critical of him. It marked a distinct departure from his previous stance on only supporting same-sex unions, which offer the benefits and protections of a legally registered marriage at the state level instead of at the federal level.
It's no secret that same-sex marriages and same-sex unions often run against the grain of conservatives Christians and, most crucially, a large bloc of the African-American and Caribbean-American community.
As a result, Obama's declaration has put the communities that support him, but stand against same-sex marriages, in a predicament. Most are unwilling to switch alliance and vote for Mitt Romney because he believes the only meaning of marriage is a union between man and woman. But, should they vote for a president who supports an issue that opposes their religious and cultural norms?
However, Obama's supporters who are critical of his decision should pause and analyze the president's public declaration. Their first question should be: was Mr. Obama's decision an expression of his genuine feeling, or plain political strategy?
As a president often caught in the ebb and flow of today's tumultuous politics, Obama would know and understand firsthand the political implication of his declaration, and he must have taken a calculated risk in deciding to take this stance. His declaration may have proved premature, possibly prompted by Vice President Joe Biden announcing a few days earlier that he had no problem with same-sex marriages, followed by a similar comment from treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. Some even suspect that Biden's and Geithner's pronouncements were deliberate preludes to Obama's.
Be that as it may, in making his declaration Obama deferred to the more liberal attitudes of young Americans, including his own daughters – a gesture not lost on the important young generation vote.
Some experts believe that although Obama could lose votes because of his declaration, most of these votes may never have gone Obama's way, particularly among Bible-belt conservatives who hardly vote for democrats. Any other losses may also be balanced by significant gains from the American LGBT community, which has become an increasingly influential and wealthy voting bloc.
Assuming Mr. Obama's decision was one based on political strategizing in a very tight election campaign, some people still argue he should not have compromised his personal principles if deep down he is against same-sex marriage.
However, the president did not initiate fundamental amendments in the American constitution to legalize same-sex marriages on a federal level. This issue may not even be a pivotal problem in this year's campaign, as the country is justifiably occupied with the recovering economy.
Although Obama's declaration may win or cost him votes, it remains a fact that 31 (including Florida) of the 50 states in the U.S. have passed constitutional amendments that ban on some level the legal recognition of same-sex marriages. Even on the eve of Obama's declaration, North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and same-sex unions.
Obama's declaration also forecasts a very unusual political season in America. Voters must be on the alert for more major surprises in the months ahead.