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Barack Obama, Mitt Romney split on gay marriage

President Barack Obama publicly said he supports same-sex marriage just one day after North Carolina approved a ban, and Ohio State students are taking notice.

During an ABC interview, Obama said he has changed his position regarding same-sex marriage to favor it. In 2008, Obama voiced his opposition to same sex-marriage, citing that he favors civil unions instead. Later in 2010, the president said his position was “evolving,” with widespread speculation that he was leaning toward supporting it.

Tim Valentine, president of Scarlet and Gay at OSU, said the organization is proud of Obama for taking a stand for marriage equality on the cusp of the ban in North Carolina.

“It will be our hope that the state of Ohio will follow President Obama’s lead and show the large gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer population of this state that our rights are important,” Valentine said.

He said that although Scarlet and Gay does not have a specific political affiliation, members of the organization are happy to see politicians working for the gay community.

“We support the efforts of Equality Ohio and other leaders who have done great work toward this cause,” he said.

Obama said he discussed his stance on same-sex marriage with first lady Michelle Obama before making the announcement Wednesday.

“In the end, the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people,” Barack Obama said.

There are six states in which same-sex marriage is legal: Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York, plus Washington, D.C.

Massachusetts passed the law in 2004 when Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney was governor. According to The New York Times, Romney stood behind his views, opposing the law, going as far as calling Massachusetts “San Francisco East.”

On April 3, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified a petition allowing Freedom to Marry Ohio to continue the process to get their amendment on the ballot. 

One OSU student, Katherine Chang, a second-year in biology, said she thinks Barack Obama will gain followers through his announcement.

“I support this,” Chang said. “He’ll definitely gain a large population that is now supporting gay marriage because you kind of see that movement growing.”

College Republicans communication director, Niraj Antani, said he doubts the president voiced his personal opinion, but instead is voicing what his followers want to hear.

“I doubt his announcement today reflects his personal views,” Antani said. “Rather he is flip-flopping to gain political points with his base, something that comes as no surprise from him.”

Antani said he is trying to appeal to his followers with the announcement.

“He’s playing politics as usual and is trying to keep his base at bay,” Antani said. “His base would have been furious if he didn’t come out in support today.”

During his ABC interview, Barack Obama addressed college Republicans.

“When I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy,” Barack Obama said. “But are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality.”

Abdulai Abdullah, a fourth-year in aviation, said Barack Obama’s announcement should not have happened because he shouldn’t be concerned about the issue.

“He needs to get away from people’s bedrooms and focus on the economy. The local and state will take care of that,” Abdullah said. “He should just care about how people are supposed to feed their families. What happens in someone’s bedroom is nobody’s business.”

Romney, reiterated his views on same-sex marriage after a campaign event in Oklahoma City.

“I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “I have the same view I’ve had since, well, running for office.”

OSU political science professor Nathaniel Swigger said he is surprised by Barack Obama’s announcement due to his silence after Vice President Joe Biden endorsed same-sex marriage Sunday on NBC.

“There is a risk, certainly, but I think this statement shows that the president isn’t as afraid of this issue as other Democrats have been in the past,” Swigger said. “I strongly suspect that Romney and the Republicans will respond to that issue, but we have seen an increase in support for gay rights that we’ve seen over the past couple of years.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan voiced his support for the legalization of same-sex marriage Monday as well.

Jasmine Young, a second-year in business administration, said she doesn’t think that Barack Obama’s opinion will change the issue that much.

“I hope it wouldn’t affect (Barack Obama’s campaign) in a bad way. It should actually get him more people,” Young said. “Maybe people who are gay or believe in same-sex marriage might agree and say, ‘We want to follow with that.’ It could help.”

According to a recent Gallup poll dated May 3 to 6, 50 percent of Americans think same-sex marriage should be legalized, while 48 percent do not.

Ritika Shah contributed to this story.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 10, 2012 

An earlier version of this story stated that Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine proposed a state constitutional amendment that would permit same-sex marriage. In fact, DeWine did not propose the amendment, he certified that this group could continue with its action.

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