Last week Obama made one of the most historic announcement in the recent history of gay rights – the American president came out in support of gay marriage. Obama is the first serving President in American history to openly and publicly announce his support for same-sex marriage. The President’s declaration of support for marriage equality came after he faced pressure to clarify his position on the issue following Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s public pledges of support.
A week later and Obama is standing firm on his support for gay marriage despite criticism from more conservative quarters. During an fund-raising event at which the President spoke, introduced by openly gay singer Ricky Martin, Obama argued that all people are “equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect”.
The President also argued “I want everyone treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we’ve extended rights and responsibilities to everybody. That doesn’t weaken families; that strengthens families.”
Meanwhile the number of celebrities supporting gay marriage and Obama continues to rise. Last week Hollywood stars took to Twitter to back Obama and amongst them were Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper and Mia Farrow. The legendary Betty White also quickly endorsed Obama for re-election. This week Will Smith and rapper Jay-Z have also announced their support for gay marriage.
Smith, soon to be seen in Men in Black 3, gave his support to Obama when questioned by reporters in Berlin. The actor described Obama’s support as “brave” given the presidential elections this year. On gay marriage itself and his own views Smith told reporters “if anybody can find someone to love them and to help them through this difficult thing that we call life, I support that in any shape or form”
Rapper Jay-Z gave his support for gay marriage telling CNN “I’ve always thought it as something that is holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their own business, who they choose to love is their own business. It’s no different between discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination.”
Closer to home (the UK) France’s new president, François Hollande, has also spoken in favour of gay marriage. Hollande has previously pledged to legalise gay marriage in France by 2013.
[Written by Martha Kirkpatrick, LGBT editor]