McEntee: Obama takes courageous, if politically dangerous, stand on gay marriage

By peg mcentee

Tribune Columnist

Published: May 9, 2012 04:51PM
Updated: May 9, 2012 11:39PM
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Peg McEntee

President Barack Obama already has shown himself to be a friend in spirit of this nation’s and this state’s LGBT community. Now he’s come out and said it: He’s for same-sex marriage.

No more “evolving” thinking, no more equivocation.

It’s an incredibly brave act in an election year, when he faces a huge number of ultraconservative voters and Mitt Romney, who, in concert with his Mormon faith, opposes gay marriage.

The trail signs were there — Obama dismantled the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and isn’t pursuing a defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, decisions that the hard right has used against him time and again.

And like most of us, all he had to do was take a look at the friends, sisters and brothers, neighbors, co-workers — people like you and me — who thrive in close relationships built on love, respect and commitment.

It’s about the simple notion, too often ignored by those who would deny others basic human rights, that treating people as you’d like to be treated is a fundamental element of humanity.

But it’s also about the growing influence of the LGBT community through the structure of American and Utah life. Many of us have come to recognize and applaud gay people in the next cubicle over, in police cars and emergency rooms, in the grocery store and the house across the street.

What those who oppose gay marriage, or even condemn gay people, need to know is that they’re not going away. Like the civil rights movements that have come before, the battle for gay rights has ever-growing power, particularly in the political sphere and on both sides of the aisle.

And while many religions are opposed, others have for decades opened their arms and sanctuaries to the LGBT worshippers among them.

Here in Utah, the LDS Church has backed anti-discrimination ordinances, although it remains institutionally opposed to gay marriage, along with Catholic, Muslim and other faith traditions. It must be said, too, that nothing about marriage equality will force those and other faiths to conduct marriages.

But remember California’s Proposition 8, which would have amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage? During that campaign, many people of faith ignored their denomination’s official postures to stand with the LGBT men and women they had come to know and respect.

Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters are among the multitudes of families who find interacting with gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people a normal way of life that scarcely merits mentioning.

But as president, Obama has done what none other has — he stands for the right of every U.S. citizen to love and live as free Americans.

It may cost him the November election, and that would be a terrible shame. But he will forever stand with other giants who understood that every one of us is born worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @Peg McEntee