When Barack Obama was first elected, he said that he supported civil unions over gay marriage. He has changed his mind since that announcement. He says his daughters really helped change his viewpoint, and it wasn’t until 2012 that he changed his mind about the issue. I think that is great. Politicians are people, too; they are allowed to change their minds.
At first, Obama thought that the civil union title was fine for gay marriage as long as they had the same rights as heterosexual couples. Obama spoke in favor of gay marriage during a town hall in London:
“I have to confess my children generally had an impact on me. People I loved who were in monogamous same-sex relationships explained to me what I should have understood earlier, which is it was not simply about legal rights but about a sense of stigma, that if you’re calling it something different it means that somehow it means less in the eyes of society.”
He said that the gay rights movement has moved a lot quicker than other social movements. The president also praised activists for making it a family values movement.
This debate has heated up for transgender rights lately. People in England have issued travel warnings to those in their LGBT community because of the discrimination bills they have passed; they are specifically talking about the anti-transgender bills in North Carolina and Mississippi. President Obama is against these laws and thinks they should be overturned. But, he said that blocking the passage of discrimination laws in Congress would be “unlikely.”
A brave university student, Maria Munir, in England came out as a non-binary person at this Town Hall event.
“I’m coming out to you as a non-binary person, I don’t fit – I’m getting emotional – (there was applause from the crowd) because I come from a Pakistani Muslim background which has cultural implications. I know that in North Carolina people are being forced to produce birth certificates to prove your gender to go to the toilet. We don’t recognise non-binary people under the UK Equality Act so if I am discriminated against I have no rights. I’ve been working for the last nine months to raise these issues even though I’m still at university and running for local elections at Watford.”
Obama had this response for her:
“We’re taking a lot of serious steps to address these issues in the federal government the challenge in North Carolina is because it’s state law and our system, I can’t overturn on my own state laws unless a federal law is passed that prohibits the state – and with the congress I have that’s not likely to happen – you should feel encouraged that social attitudes on this have changed faster than with any other issue.”
No one should have to face discrimination because of who they are or who they love. We have come a long way on this issue, but there is still a lot of work to do.
Featured image via Getty/Bloomberg