History was made Wed. May 9, 2012 when President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly support same-sex marriage, sparking the conversation about the legalization of same-sex marriage once again. Obama’s comments indicated that he believes all U.S. states should legalize same-sex marriage. While some states have taken the initiative and given same-sex couples the right to marry, Michigan, unfortunately, has not. In light of Obama’s monumental announcement, Michigan should take steps to make his message a reality and legalize same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, Obama went on national television for an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC. He stated that his views on same-sex marriage have evolved throughout his term as president. While originally in support of equal benefits for same-sex partners through civil unions, Obama announced that his stance on the issue has changed and he now believes same-sex couples should have the right to marry. This statement came a day after North Carolina banned gay marriage in their constitution, showing the rapidly-changing yet still-divided national stance on the issue.
Obama’s comments represent the changing political climate of our country. In the past 10 years, Americans’ views on same-sex marriage have changed quickly as the acceptance of same-sex marriage increases. Pew Research Center found that among registered voters support for same-sex marriage has grown from 35 percent in 2001 to 47 percent this year. While some states, such as North Carolina, have banned same-sex marriage in their constitution, there is an overall trend toward support of same-sex marriage among Democrats and Republicans.
Michigan needs to take the initiative and legalize same-sex marriage. In a recent poll, 44 percent of Michigan registered voters said they support same-sex marriage compared to the 43 percent that oppose it. Our state has advocated gay rights for years, with Ann Arbor being the first city in the U.S. to pass a gay rights ordinance in 1972 and then electing the first openly gay city-council member in 1974. We should continue this history of acceptance and support of gay rights by legalizing same-sex marriage, thereby setting a precedent for other states to follow.
The legalization of same-sex marriage is not a partisan issue, nor is it a “liberal” policy that most of the U.S. is strongly against. Same-sex marriage is supported by people of all different ages, political parties and backgrounds. If Michigan wants to look back with pride on its support of same-sex marriage, it should take steps to allow these couples to marry. Obama has made it clear that if the president of the United States is allowed to come out in support of gay marriage, the people of the U.S. should rally behind him and push for the legalization of this basic human right.