President supports same-sex marriage as North Carolina forbids same-sex unions
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 12/26/2012, 5:47 p.m.
Shockwaves of praise are being felt across the nation as President Barack Obama announce that he supports same-sex marriage, making him the first sitting U.S. president to do so. The news makes it evident that the nation is evolving when it comes to same-sex marriage,
Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage during an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News.
"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," said Obama.
The announcement comes as the president kicks off his campaign for re-election. Several people in Obama's administration, prior to his own acceptance of same-sex marriage, have already said they are comfortable with the concept that has divided the nation. Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan have all thrown their support behind same-sex marriage.
As the fight for same-sex marriage continues across the nation, North Carolina passed an amendment to its state constitution that would prevent gays from marrying in an overwhelming vote on Tuesday, 61 percent approving. The constitutional amendment defines marriage between a man and a woman and as the only "domestic legal union." It also does more than just affect homosexuals, as the amendment could also end the legal recognition of unmarried straight couples in domestic partnerships.
While North Carolina already had a ban on gay marriage, Black voters and predominately white Republicans in the Southern state were on the same page when it came to the issue. About 20 percent of North Carolina residents are Black.
North Carolina NAACP President the Rev. William Barber said the vote is a clear attack on civil rights and that there is a trend in Southern states about voting on amendments and laws that discriminate.
"When you say, 'Do you believe hate and discrimination should be in the Constitution?' there's a very different answer on this," Barber said on PBS's "NewsHour." "We believe that's extraordinarily dangerous. It sets up different precedents. What if we put the Voting Rights Act up for a popular vote? What if we put the '64 Civil Rights Act up for a popular vote?"
The North Carolina NAACP pushed Black voters to vote against the amendment using fliers, robocalls and ads on several radio stations. Barber asked Black voters to put their beliefs about gay marriage aside, saying that they should not vote on something that discriminates and downgrades a certain group in ways similar to what whites did during the Jim Crow era.
"Whether you agree or disagree with same-sex marriage because of your personal, religious or moral beliefs, you should vote against this amendment that strips some North Carolina families of their human rights," said Barber.
While church groups and conservatives were strongly in favor of the amendment for religious reasons, the NAACP warned that the amendment would also take away domestic violence protections from unmarried women, strip legal recognition and protection from all unmarried couples and cause children of unmarried parents to lose their health and prescription coverage.
The NAACP has not taken a position on same-sex marriage. The over-100-year-old civil rights organization says that the issue is sensitive and that "people of goodwill have heartfelt differences about it."
When asked about the issue, Obama's likely presidential opponent Mitt Romney did not respond.
Thirty states have a ban on gay marriage. Blacks have historically had a strong opposition toward gay marriage. Opposition is especially strong in Southern states, where church and religious affiliation is greater. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows that only 40 percent of Black voters are in favor of same-sex marriage.