Leading article: Full marks to Barack Obama

 

Share
Related Topics

Same-sex marriage, promised in Britain before the next general election, was conspicuous by its absence from the Queen's Speech on Wednesday. But on the same day on the other side of the Atlantic, Barack Obama became the first US president to express his support for the idea. In doing so, he placed himself on the right side of America's most contentious social issue, and on the right side of history. It can only be hoped that David Cameron will prove equally courageous in the face of the increasingly vocal opposition to the proposal from the Tory right.

In the US, gay rights advocates will complain that the President should have expressed himself earlier and more forcefully, rather than seeming to have his hand forced by the unexpected endorsement for gay marriage by Vice-President Joe Biden on a Sunday talk show. They will also object that Mr Obama stressed that his was a personal view, and that the matter should be decided by individual states.

But Mr Obama's caution was understandable. Already, no president had been more supportive of gay issues. But until Mr Biden spoke out and triggered a media frenzy, the White House had maintained merely that the President's position on same-sex marriage was "evolving". Nor, although it carries great symbolic importance, will Mr Obama's voice be decisive. As with momentous earlier battles over equal rights and the "separate but equal" principle that underpinned racial segregation, the legality of same-sex marriage will almost certainly be resolved by the Supreme Court.

For the moment, re-election is Mr Obama's most pressing concern, and the political impact of his words is hard to predict. His stand may cut into his support from blacks and Latinos, and will undoubtedly energise the Republican base. But the economy remains key, and the election will not hinge on the issue of gay marriage.

Meanwhile, time will probably render the issue moot both in the US and closer to home. Younger voters increasingly regard gay marriage as natural and acceptable, and, in a few decades, all will wonder what the fuss was about. Not a moment too soon.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive - Major Sporting Venue

£29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Old London Bridge; how to fight UKIP; and wolves

John Rentoul
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible