It took just 10 words for President Obama to end his career-long wrestling match with the same-sex marriage issue. During a deceptively casual television interview on Wednesday, Obama simply said:

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

And with that, Obama made history as the first sitting American president to endorse same-sex marriage.

Although Obama’s stance on the issue doesn’t change any existing laws, and his endorsement was almost certainly pressured forward after recent unexpected remarks on the issue by both his vice president and education secretary, (who independently voiced support for same-sex marriage), the president’s statement marks a watershed moment in one of this nation’s biggest and most contentious social issues. Because even as the country remains bitterly divided about it, a presidential endorsement packs a pretty powerful punch in influencing the debate.

The legal status of same-sex marriage around the U.S. (NPR)

For Obama, whose position on same-sex marriage has for decades, swayed like a pendulum, this latest statement marks the momentous end ( at least for now) of his drawn out, self-described “evolving” stance on the issue. Because, when it comes down to it, Obama is, above all else, a professional politician. Sure, he has strong personal beliefs and values. But his impressive political success has always depended on the ability to delicately balance priorities and values, and to find the comfortable middle ground to retain a solid support base.

Bottom line for a cautious politician: row the boat, but try not to rock it too much!

Given all that, it’s little surprise that the guy’s balked at supporting same-sex marriage.I mean, regardless of your stance on it, this issue’s about as heated as it gets – pretty much the equivalent of political heart burn. Just a day before Obama’s big endorsement, voters in North Carolina (where the Democratic Convention will be held) approved a constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriages and civil unions (a vote Obama expressed disapproval about). North Carolina is just one of 30 states that have voted in favor of constitutional amendments defining marriage as a heterosexual union. And a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that while the contingent of American’s supporting gay marriage has increased in recent years – to just over 50 percent – there is still a ton of strong opposition, especially in many of the swing states that Obama needs to win in the upcoming election. Currently, eight of those 10 swing states don’t allow same-sex marriage (Iowa and New Hampshire are the exceptions).

Obama’s Very Loaded Thumbs Up On Same-Sex Marriage 19 May,2015Matthew Green


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @MGreenKQED

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