President Barack Obama admitted that he once believed that marriage was a scared union between a man and a woman. Despite this once ardent belief, he now strongly advocates for the civil union of gay and lesbian couples. He states that they ought to be granted the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples across America. Is this merely a change of opinion or does Obama’s views reflect a change in society as a whole. Our resident NY family attorney has set out the below time line which clearly shows a shift in society.
Societal Change Time Line
1993: In what is now considered a landmark ruling, Hawaii’s Supreme Court held that same-sex couples should not be denied the right to marry unless there is compelling evidence not to allow it. Our NY family and New York Family Law Attorney states that this is one of the earliest debates regarding the rights of gay and lesbian couple. Still today, domestic partnerships and civil unions are legal in Hawaii.
1996: The, then president, Bill Clinton signed the Defence of Marriage Act. This defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Our New York Family Law Attorneys explains that the law denied gay and lesbian couple equal rights. In 2013, Bill Clinton explained that -"As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution."
2004: President Bush sought to place reins around what he referred to as activist judges who wished to create new policy in regards to civil unions. Senators John Kerry and John Edwards opposed the amendment while stating that they didn’t agree that same sex marriages should be legal either.
2012: For the first time, voters were given a voice in regard to same sex marriages. Same-sex marriage was made legal in Maryland, Maine, Washington and Minnesota. Before this point, six other states legalised gay marriage via the courts and legislators.
2013: Obama, a devout catholic, joins the fight for same sex marriage. This was made official in February when the Justice Department filed a brief in the Supreme Court. Many republicans agreed with Obama’s change of opinion in the papers filed.
As the battle rages on, it is difficult to say where gay and lesbian rights will be in five or ten years. However, if we look at the above time line, it is evident that as a society we are prone to growth and development. It may take some time for homosexuals to have equal rights – but one thing is for sure – Obama is not giving up the fight.
Obama Speaks Out – His Views Reflect Societal Change