Did President Obama "Declare War on Marriage" by Expressing His Support for Same-Sex Marriage?

Posted By Pasadena Family Law Attorney || 9-May-2012

On May 9, 2012, President Obama made the following statement regarding his personal view on the issue of same-sex marriage: "I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

Immediately thereafter, both the media and individual citizens began commenting on the issue of same-sex marriage and on their view toward President Obama for expressing his personal opinion on the issue. While some expressed their support for same-sex marriage and for President Obama's views on that issue, others criticized the President and expressed their opposition to same-sex marriage. In fact, Fox News made the following announcement: "Obama Flip Flops, Declares War on Marriage."

We are living in what is known as the "Age of Information" because of the "ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously."

Why not take advantage of the fact that we are all living in the "Age of Information"? My question is not limited to the information available regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. Rather, it applies to everything. Why are we continuing to allow others to feed us information without questioning that information? In the past, it "would have been difficult or impossible" to verify such information or learn more about the issues and topics. In the "Age of Information", this is no longer true. Although "curiosity is common to human beings of all ages from infancy through adulthood", many people seem to ignore that "innate basic emotion." Instead, they accept the information they are fed by those they respect as the final word on the subject. "Curiosity is trying to find answers to the whys that we've asked and continue to ask." By the way, "because", "because I said so", and "because [fill in the blank] said so" are not answers.

Each and every one of us has our own unique background and life experiences, which shapes our personal beliefs, values, assumptions, and biases. In his book "Mediating Dangerously - The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution", Kenneth Cloke made the following statement: "[T]here is no such thing as genuine neutrality when it comes to conflict. Everyone has had conflict experiences that have shifted his or her perceptions, attitudes, and expectations, and it is precisely these experiences that give us the ability to empathize with the experiences of others."

Since same-sex marriage seems to be the hot issue, now that President Obama shared his personal views with the world, let's use that issue as a case-in-point. In his statement, President Obama gave us his "why" for supporting same-sex marriage. "Opinion changes are the result of a reasoned consideration of opposing points of views." In fact, President Obama described how is opinion was formed as a result of his talking to "friends and family and neighbors." His explanation for his change of opinion is consistent with the research on "deliberative capacity and opinion change." This is very different from someone who refuses to share their opinion, or whose opinion changes like the wind because their "opinion" is not really their opinion; rather, it is political rhetoric. For example, Dick Cheney said he supported same-sex marriage in 2009, only after leaving office. Dick Cheney also happens to have a lesbian daughter. While in office, was Dick Cheney's "opinion" on the issue of same-sex marriage his opinion or political rhetoric? Isn't it interesting that Dick Cheney expressed his support for same-sex marriage only after leaving political office? Barack Obama, on the other hand, shared his person view on the issue of same-sex marriage while still in political office. Moreover, he did so while running for a second term as President. Considering the controversial nature of the issue, could his decision to share his support for same-sex marriage have been politically motivated? For those who believe it was, I suggest that you exercise your curiosity by trying to understand how doing so could benefit him in an election year. Unless I am missing something, he stood more to lose than to gain by stating his support for same-sex marriage. The "why" for my opinion is that same-sex marriage is a divisive issue and one which does not have the support of the majority of the citizens of this country. Therefore, why would President Obama believe that he would benefit by sharing his opinion with us?

The next "why" to ask is why President Obama declared "War on Marriage" by virtue of sharing his support for same-sex marriage. Did President Obama state that he was declaring "War on Marriage"? Why is support for same-sex marriage a "War on Marriage"?

"Same-sex marriage is legally recognized nationwide in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. In the United States, same-sex marriages are not recognized federally, though same-sex couples can marry in six of the fifty states and one district. In Mexico, same-sex marriages are only performed in Mexico City, but these marriages are recognized by all Mexican states and by the Mexican federal government. Israel does not recognize same-sex marriages performed on its territory, but recognizes same-sex marriages performed in foreign jurisdictions. In Brazil, the state of Alagoas performs same-sex marriages. Also, in other states, a same-sex couple may convert their civil union into marriage with the approval of a state judge. If approved, that marriage is recognized in all the national territory."

Considering that same-sex marriage is already legally recognized in so many places around the world, how can President Obama's support of same-sex marriage be viewed as a "War on Marriage"? Has the institution of marriage been damaged by virtue of the fact that same-sex marriage is already legally recognized in so many places around the world? If not, how does President Obama's support of same-sex marriage damage the institution of marriage? If so, how does President Obama's support of same-sex marriage further damage the institution of marriage? Are any of the places around the world that recognize same-sex marriage going to cease recognizing such marriages because of President Obama's personal opinion?

Furthermore, have churches and other religious institutions been sued for refusing to perform same-sex marriages in those countries and states in which such marriages are recognized? The answer: "No."

It is time that people in this country and elsewhere take advantage of the fact that we live in the "Age of Information" and exercise their innate curiosity by "trying to find answers to the whys that we've asked and continue to ask."