The Louisville Fairness Campaign is praising President Obama for coming out in support of gay marriage on Wednesday in an interview with ABC News.
The president said after personally wrestling with the issue and it was important he affirm that he supports gay couples being legally recognized under marriage laws. Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden indicated that he had no problem with gay marriage and Mr. Obama was being pressured if his “evolving” position had changed.
Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman says the announcement is a sea change in the gay rights movement.
“Never before has a sitting president come out so resolutely in favor of marriage equality. So this is a historic day for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer Americans—undeniably,” he says.
But some supporters of the president have voiced concern about him backing same-sex marriage and predict a potential backlash given how divisive the issue remains. Polling numbers show around 50 percent of Americans support gay marriage, but a vote in North Carolina on Tuesday overwhelmingly backed a constitutional amendment to ban gay unions.
However, Hartman says the president’s comments could remind voters why they backed him four years ago and that it will energize gay rights advocate in states like Kentucky, where there are no civil rights protections for LGBT residents.
“This really elevates the dialogue to a whole new level to say states like Kentucky really need to get on board and they need to insert some real civil rights for LGBT people or else they really will be left behind by the rest of the nation,” he says.
In a message to supporters, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released a statement asking voters to sign a petition backing the president’s position. Political observers contend this gives a clear contrast for voters on the issue in the fall campaign that some lawmakers will highlight.
“As a strong supporter of marriage equality, I am proud that President Obama has joined the millions of Americans committed to equal rights and fairness for all our citizens,” says Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who has co-sponsored legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. . “This is a historic day for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples and their families across our country.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he does not favor gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.