While gay-rights advocates are celebrating President Obama’s conversion on gay marriage, not everyone is happy.
Unsurprisingly, longtime opponents of gay marriage are speaking out against the president’s comments, which he made today in an interview with ABC News.
In the latest ABC News polling, 52 percent of respondents said gay marriage should be legal, while 43 percent said it should be illegal. That leaves a large swath of the country, including the politicians and interest groups that represent it, that will not agree with the president’s remarks.
Opponents voiced that displeasure in written statements emailed to reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
The president was also criticized by one group that does support expanded gay rights. The Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and gay-rights-supporting Republicans, called the timing of Obama’s comments “offensive and callous”:
“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”
Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., the tea-party-backed congressman who won election in 2010, accused Obama of a calculated political move. He tweeted:
“Pres failures are masked by irrelevant pandering as a collectivist who does not respect individual sovereignty. More of the same politics.”
National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown suggested Obama has just made gay marriage the central issue of the 2012 presidential campaign:
“President Obama has now made the definition of marriage a defining issue in the presidential contest, especially in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada,” Brown said. “Voters in all these states, and over two dozen more, have adopted state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. President Obama says that although he personally supports gay marriage, he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. However, that is completely disingenuous. His administration is already trying to dismantle the nation’s marriage laws by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. All the state marriage amendments and laws are at risk under a president who actively wants to change the definition of marriage. NOM will work ceaselessly in these swing states and across the nation to preserve traditional marriage because it is profoundly in the public good to do so. God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim. The definition of marriage was already headed for the ballot in four states this fall; now it will be one of the defining issues of the presidential election. No state in this country has every voted for gay marriage. Just yesterday, North Carolina voters sent a clear message that America wants to preserve marriage. We intend to win the marriage debate this November.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a prominent culture warrior on the right, suggested Obama’s comments finally match his actions:
“The president’s announcement today that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) to giving taxpayer funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the president has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law.
“As demonstrated by yesterday’s overwhelming vote in North Carolina, redefining marriage remains outside the mainstream of American politics, especially in the critical battleground states and among minority voters. In North Carolina, the amendment received more than 60 percent of the vote in majority-black counties.
“Considering that 10 of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the president’s new policy position on marriage, today’s announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election.
“The president has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama.”
Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith Freedom Coalition, called Obama’s evolution a broken promise:
“Four years ago, [in] 2008, Barack Obama promised if elected not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000, pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term – and made clear his support for traditional marriage. All those promises are now broken. At a time of high unemployment and severe economic distress, President Obama chose the week he launched his re-election campaign to flip-flop on same-sex marriage. Combined with his administration’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, it reveals a president who is tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the time-honored values of millions of Americans. This is an unanticipated gift to the Romney campaign. It is certain to fuel a record turnout of voters of faith to the polls this November.”
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly called Obama’s comments “disappointing”:
“President Obama’s announcement that he has changed his position and now personally supports same-sex marriage is disappointing. This is obviously a hot-button political issue on which there is much disagreement nationwide, and people of good faith will come to different conclusions. But the presidency comes with a bully pulpit that ought to be used with respect for the will of the people – and the will of the people on this issue is crystal clear.
“North Carolina on Tuesday became the 32nd state – out of 32 that have voted — to protect marriage by a vote of the people. Every time the issue of protecting traditional marriage (31 times via constitutional amendment) has been put before the people, it has passed — in ‘conservative’ states like Mississippi, Utah and the Dakotas; ‘liberal’ states like California and Hawaii; and those more ideologically up-for-grabs states like Florida, Michigan and Ohio, which routinely prove to swing presidential elections.
“The role of government – from the White House to the State House to City Hall – is to do what is best for its people: all its people. … Traditional marriage is that best chance of ensuring the well-being of children and creating a building block for a thriving society.”