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President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.
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That is a huge gamble for him... and to be honest it shouldn't be.

Wars, the economy, debt crises... and people are arguing about whether people who are in love should be allowed to get married.
This was a major disappointment of mine with +Barack Obama, glad to see he's turned about on this issue.

Though personally I wouldn't mind if the government just got out of marriage altogether (and only allowed civil unions for any couple).
+River Khan You can't give the man a break, can you? This is a tremendous gamble for him. It could cost him the election. A majority in the U.S. do not support gay marriage.
I never cared for Obama's politics, but as a leader he's doing a damn good job.
I went through a similar evolution (albeit several years ago), so I have some sympathy for his position. Glad to see he's caught up with the rest of us.
yesterday was more than destroying "gay marriage" it was ruining the rights of any unwed couples in NC
What strikes me is that homosexuals are not asked how they choose to live their lives but their lives are determined by others who are not homosexuals yet want to vote on the matter.
I'm delighted to have a president willing to take a stand for civil rights.
There's nothing wrong with politics driving good decisions, even when they are politically risky. But that's a very individual decision, and the risks of taking on unpopular viewpoints can be very high.
Or we could look at marriage being a personal decision and remove all government involvement. That way we could go back to not giving a shit if the president approves of our relationships or not.

Change the tax code etc. Why does the gov't even have anything to do with it? We can already hold any ceremony we want and call it whatever we want. The government intrusions are the only issue. If anything, instead of homosexuals trying to be part of the system, heterosexuals should be trying to destroy the system.
The political calculus in this case, by the way, seems fairly straightforward. The people most likely to oppose him on this topic were almost certainly not going to vote for him in any case. Most other (non-gay) people won't feel strongly enough about it one way or another for it to really matter compared with more critical issues. So it washes on that side.
Once he ended DADT, this step became pretty self-evident.
I have to worry that this will cost the President re-election, but I'm very proud of my President today.
The economy may cost the President his job. It won't be this.
Bet he doesn't get the votes from North Carolina since they overwhelming voted againist that.
I don't understand why the White House has been so coy about this issue. It's nice to now they've come out (pun intended) with their position.
+David Blanar I have no illusions about far-right Christian conservatives ever supporting an Obama re-election, but that's not why I'm worried.

The simple fact is as much as I may want to think otherwise, plenty of so-called moderates are on the fence on this, if not outright opposed, and folks will vote on what they see as moral issues. This much should be clear.

As a gay person, I'm proud of this president for finally getting off the fence and committing to the only position here that makes any sense. As a progressive, I'm not willing to say that folks will vote on the economy. Plenty - PLENTY - of folks in 2004 said they were supporting the Bush reelection specifically because Bush tossed some red meat to the base on this issue.

As much as I want to pretend that this country has evolved, as much as I want to pretend that folks care about issues other than how many sets of same-sex genitals are in my bedroom, the simple fact is that isn't the case.

I wish the country would grow up on these issues, but it hasn't.
sad and wrong. this country is great because it respected the bible. Wake up America
+Ward Chanley Thanks for sharing your views. I too think it's discriminatory to not allow same-sex marriages. I strongly feel that we will be moving in the right direction to allow our LGBT friends the same rights as everyone else. Unfortunately that time isn't now.
+Ward Chanley - But national polling suggests Obama is simply saying something that most people agree with ( This is only controversial for those who have television programmes aimed at a reactionary audience. Obviously, this is most important in those swing states, so it's worth looking at the numbers, but overall this can't really be seen as a surprise.

Edit: the link above shows a poll of US Christians ... apologies, here's a link to a national poll of everyone, the numbers are consistent:
No, +sam kazee, you couldn't be more wrong. One of the best things about America isn't that many of its citizens respect the Bible, but that its citizens are free to worship (or not) the religion of their choice without any sort of imposition or endorsement from the government. That's freedom. Gay marriage bans are the exact opposite of that.
it's election year and he's wanting to solidify certain demographics. Not for a minute do I believe he legitimately cares about the issue beyond getting political support. he's going to gain partisan support however he can while preaching bi-partisanship.
+David Blanar It's not most people - it's roughly 50% of people - which is, granted, more progress than I ever thought I'd live to see, but it's not a slam-dunk politically. Have you seen a single national poll that puts the mean support for equal marriage at anything more than 50-53% (i.e. inside the margin of error for nearly any political polling)? I haven't. I doubt anyone else has, but it ultimately isn't a question of raw numbers.

If this was closer to 60% of the country supporting equal marriage, it would be a lot easier to say this was simply a 'liberal' President making an easy choice during a campaign, but this isn't that.
I can't believe the hate that comes out in the comments on that article though.
+David Blanar No, it doesn't. The near-60% positive response from the AP poll you're linking is in response to this question:

"0. Should couples of the same sex be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples
of the opposite sex, or should the government distinguish between them?"

That's not the same thing as saying one supports equal marriage; that's perhaps an argument for saying that folks aren't opposed to what gay people are forced to deal with right now - i.e. a hodgepodge of legal arrangements, powers-of-attorney and so on that come with marriage rights by default.

Answering in the affirmative to the above question doesn't actually move the needle on support for equal marriage; it merely means that 57 and 58% majorities during two rounds of polling (less in subsequent rounds, at 54 and 51%, with a 4 point margin) are comfortable with the easy and obvious claim that if I'm gay and in a relationship I and my parner should perhaps have things like hospital visitation or shouldn't be denied access to publicly funded services.

That's not actually support for equal marriage rights. A better look at what your preferred poll is saying is in this question:

"Should the government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, or

Here, we've got three rounds of polling with Yes responses at 53%, 52% and 46% with a four point margin of error overall.

It would certainly be nice, for me, if even your poll suggested what you're claiming it does, but it doesn't do that.
That's a fair point +Ward Chanley (about legal benefits vs. legal recognition) and I agree with you. Just to be technical: the polling wasn't in rounds, it was in previous years, which shows a rising trend since 2008. The larger point is that this isn't a position which is decreasing in popularity; the poll does show the trend is heading the other way.
With this Obama becomes definitely the only choice for the next presidency!
+Chris Penner I think that those who believe in the Bible see that while America was founded on a freedom of religion, there was a greater sense of decency, respect of morality and laws, and, perhaps, less self-interest then than there is now. I am guessing that there were more people who would consider themselves "believers" back then as well.

The anti gay marriage crowd look around and see that there is a lot of "good Christian values" being eroded away in the USA. To them, eroding those values is eroding America. Yes, you have freedom of religion. But, societally, allowing things in that undercut the core Christian values of the USA, damage the country.

I am not actually arguing that they are correct. But, I think it is fundamentally important in the USA (I am Canadian) for regular citizens at different ends of the political spectrum to start understanding each other better -- before interests and corporations rip your country apart.
+David Blanar No argument with the idea that the public is coming around on this issue; as I said originally, national polling on the marriage question being ~50% is more progress than I ever thought I'd live to see. But the point isn't ultimately about the numbers; as you alluded to, it's about swing state moderates, and that's risky. It would have been much easier for this President to take this position had he been re-elected and the ultimate fallout would become the next Democratic candidate's problem. The point is, he's doing it now, which comes with a potential cost, no matter how you slice it.

Yes, we've made progress on the issue, and I'm glad for at least that. That's not remotely the same as saying - as you seem to be saying - that this was a zero-risk easy move for this President headed into a re-election campaign.
Nothing is zero-risk in politics :-) +Ward Chanley ... but once he got rid of DADT, this really wasn't going to be nearly as risky. Now ... if he would just come out as what he really is -- an atheist -- well, that would be risky. Hee.
+David Blanar If he were an atheist (he's not, but we'll let an obvious red-meat toss slide, I guess) that wouldn't have anything to do with the actual political calculus.
He just wants people to vote.
+sam kazee, which parts of the Bible? E.g. America allows cheeseburgers, though they are illegal according to the Bible... children are not murdered for swearing at their parents either, so that part is not respected... long list, really, of stuff that gets ignored on a daily basis. And do read up on separation of church and state.
Love you Jeff, even though you are a typical liberal professor!
I admire their commitment to each other, and I think their unions should have all social recognition, rights and benefits. Except one - do not touch marriage - it's a reserved word, that means one specific type among all kinds of human relationship - a union between woman and man. This word existed for thousands of years and meant precisely that, and I believe, majority of people clearly consider expanding of it's meaning quite ridiculous. If LGBT want us to recognize their level of commitment, they can't just steal word "marriage" and use all it's power to describe their relationship, they need new word and this new word has to earn recognition and respect from people.
And their fight to get recognized as married might be approved by some states, but to me their marriage certificates will always be fake.
+Chris Hall I don't disagree with your assessment. They're delusional. The "good ol' days" are only visible through rose-coloured glasses.

If they are disappointed that there appear to be more self-interested types now, they sure have an ironic way of showing it. Banning behaviour that doesn't affect them in any way, really?

No question there are fewer believers today, so that's a positive trend, at least. Unfortunately we have 24-hour news an talk radio that serve only to inflame - as opposed to inform - so getting a dialogue that might resemble a conversation between grownups is something that I have a hard time envisioning any time soon.
And now we get to see who actually is progressive and who is just emoprog. If you are the latter, there are few differences from a rights point of view, between civil unions and marriage. •Ed. I mean people who say it's a flip flop or too little too late for Obama to express this.
Jeff I am curious about your opinion on this: would you be in favor of the old method of marriage via private contract, certified not by government but by independent means such as churches, sea captains, local constabularies or just whoever? There would be no need to 'honor' marriages from other states as there would effectively be no real limitations anyway. This is effectively how people were married prior to the Civil War in the USA... there were no marriage licenses in any states (although some remnants of British Anglican licensing existed in the colonies).
I think James Kidd is onto something. Get the state out of it. Marriage is a social commitment between two people, made in front of their family and friends -- in public.
That leaves only the small wrinkle that private contracts and social commitments can't compel a hospital to allow someone to visit their spouse on their deathbed, or any of the other legal privileges and responsibilities that are woven into marriage as it exists today as opposed to in the 19th century.
+Danny Bell Sure, we could separate the legal construct (call it a 'civil union') from the social construct ('marriage') and then as long as any two adults could enter into the former and have it be enforced equally at the state and federal levels, the latter could be entirely a matter between two people and their community. But it's important that everyone have access to the same legal construct, not one for some people and another mostly-the-same thing for others.

Regardless, that's not what +James Kidd described. His proposed arrangement depends on some local authority that I contract with and if I happen to move somewhere else then I'm just out of luck unless my chosen sea captain's authority is recognized there.
+Justin Donnelly Agreed, but I don't see a federal solution to this dilemma coming anytime soon. In the meantime we have a mishmash of progressive and regressive state laws.
My proposal doesn't create utopian marriage equality, but it eliminates universal discrimination with government enforcement. You can't compel the hospital to allow the visit, but today the hospital is compelled not to allow the visit.
Would throwing out the entire legal framework of marriage be wise? I suppose you may be right that in some cases we'd prevent enforced discrimination but along with it you'd throw out the entire body of family law that rests on the institution. That's a lot of harm for a speculative good.

Fortunately, our academic discussion of alternative arrangements is kind of beside the point. It will still take years to get to the point where same-sex marriage is taken as a given, but public opinion is doing its best to make that look inevitable:
Is our existing family law framework so beneficial??
I don't know, does having a predictable and enforceable way of handling the guardianship of children strike you as useful? How about inheritance and property rights? The right to make medical decisions on behalf of a spouse? You can do all this with contracts, but the vast majority of us rely on there being some sort of reasonable, default set of rights and obligations without us having to do anything other than sign a marriage license.

The practice of family law is an ugly business, but that's because these issues are so important, not because the law in this area is unimportant.
There was such a default prior to the advent of marriage licensing - we haven't had licenses for that long - only since the civil war. The family law that existed then is mostly the same as what we have now. The biggest changes have been to undo the discriminations built into marriage licensing over the past century.
I guess I don't understand what you're proposing. Either we have laws requiring that spouses be able to visit each other in the hospital or we don't. If we do and you're saying that it goes back to the civil war, ok cool. But then who enforces that law and how? If a ship captain marries me and my spouse in one state, then what does it mean that, as you say, "there would be no need to 'honor' marriages from other states as there would effectively be no real limitations anyway." Not limiting who is considered married would require enforcement the moment, to pick an example at random, North Carolina says that we don't recognize marriages between two women.
Like I said it doesn't grant a universal solution. Private parties like religious hospitals might not honor such marriages. There's no real enforceable arrangement. But in my opinion that's preferable to an enforceable arrangement precisely because of how things are today - where a minority's marriage can be universally dishonored. At least in a world of private contracts, there would likely be acceptance and honoring of such marriages in many places if not everywhere.
I gotta agree with +James Power the Gov should stay out of "Marriage". That is a religious ceremony with a few thousand years of tradition, but no legal standing in today's world. Under the separation of church and state the requirement for a "Marriage License" is by definition an oxymoron. It is either a religious rite and state has no say, or a legal contract and can thus have no connection to the church. Given the complex legal strings of today's world, with shared assets, personal and shared debt, etc. a civil contract is the only way to go. That being said, this is a states rights issue. Colorado declares pot legal, Texas puts you in jail for it. The Constitution has the 2nd amendment and so firearm ownership is protected federally, and 49 states let their citizens carry concealed. Illinois will put you in jail for either open or concealed carrying of a gun. Some states issue drivers licenses at 14 most at 16. It isn't fair and in my opinion it isn't right but, this is the messy part of being a Republic.
+Ed Tourigny, "marriage" as a legal term is secular, even though religions also use the term for much the same. But that does not mean the religions "own" the term. Some religions have rules for what you can eat and when, that does not mean they own "meal" and we need to call it something else if we eat something that any religion bans.
+Tor Iver Wilhelmsen In specific terms you are correct. But in the broad sense of this issue, most people equate marriage and matrimony as equal terms when really marriage is the secular and matrimony is the religious. This is why I argue for a civil contract marriage and if the parties wish they can have a religious ceremony to be joined in matrimony.
Now where is his reformed drug policy? Most of the people i know who voted for him did it because we thought he would alter the us drug policy compared to old man time.
+Chris Penner Wow...this is an old reply.  Anyways, on your "it's a good thing there are a lot less believers statement" I would use the following example.  You are a woman walking down a dark alley alone late at night and you see 10 guys coming towards you.  Wouldn't you think that it would make a difference to that woman if she knew they were just leaving a bible study?  It seems to me that "The Christian Right" and their meddlesome politicking have  not done much good...but I disagree about religious beliefs.  
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