Wedding Announcement: Obama Shift on Marriage Equality Reignites ‘Culture Wars’
By now, everyone knows that President Barack Obama said yesterday that he personally favors marriage equality. Obama said his views on the issue have evolved and told ABC News, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
The president didn’t say that he will push for the idea or that he’ll undertake any specific policy proposals to bring about marriage equality, but an announcement like this can’t help but reverberate widely in an election year.
Obama’s announcement comes on the heels of an endorsement of marriage equality by Vice President Joe Biden and a vote in North Carolina amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.
All of this means that the “culture wars” are back - at least for the time being. Religious Right leaders will use the new developments to energize their base, raise money and rally around presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Whenever this issue comes up, Religious Right groups make reckless charges. One of the things they frequently claim is that houses of worship will be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
No, they won’t - not as long as we have a First Amendment. I’ve said this before, but here it is again: Pastors have the right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for any reason. For example, imagine a heterosexual, non-Catholic couple that has been cohabiting walking into a Catholic church and demanding to be married. Fat chance. The priest is going to tell them that they must first convert to Catholicism and establish separate households.