Last night, the voters of the Tar Heel State joined the citizens of 30 other American states in making their voices heard plainly and clearly on an issue that President Barack Hussein Obama is avoiding like the plague.
North Carolina voters have approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th U.S. state to adopt such a ban.
With 35 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against.
In the days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to reject the amendment
Meanwhile, supporters ran their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged Sunday congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment.
So, what does the “Leader of the Free World” say about the controversial subject?
Don’t ask. He won’t tell.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House on Monday, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden suggested that he supported gay marriage as well.
Obama aides worked to manage any political fallout. They said the back-to-back remarks by two top administration officials represented personal viewpoints and were not part of a coordinated effort to lay groundwork for a shift in the president’s position. Obama aides also tried to use the latest flare-up in the gay-marriage debate to shine a light on GOP rival Mitt Romney’s history of equivocating on some gay-rights issues, an attempt to turn a potential political problem into an opportunity.
Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he’s said for the past year and a half that his personal views on the matter are “evolving.”
The White House held firm on Monday to that position, which polls show puts the president increasingly at odds with his party and the majority of Americans on gay marriage. But with Biden and Duncan’s comments reinvigorating the debate, Obama is likely to face renewed pressure to clarify his views ahead of the November election.
Throughout his first term, he has sought to walk a fine line on same-sex marriage. He’s trying to satisfy rank-and-file Democrats by supporting a range of gay rights issues without alienating crucial independent voters who could be turned off by the emotional social issue.
The president’s aides acknowledge that his position can be confusing. In states where gay marriage already is legal, the president says married gay couples should have the same rights as married straight couples. But he does not publicly support the right of gay couples to enter into a marriage in the first place.
Duncan, a longtime friend of the president as well as a member of his Cabinet, made clear Monday that his position on gay marriage was not in lockstep with the White House. Asked in a television interview whether he believed gay couples should legally be allowed to marry, Duncan said simply, “Yes, I do.”
His comments followed Biden’s assertion Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”
Obama aides said Duncan was speaking about his personal views on the issue and was not under orders from the White House or the campaign to take his position.
As for Biden, White House and campaign officials said the vice president’s remarks were no different from what he and Obama have said in the past.
“They were entirely consistent with the president’s position, which is that couples who are married, whether they are gay or heterosexual couples are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign. “When people are married, we ought to recognize those marriages.”
What, precisely, is the president’s position? Jay Carney, White House press secretary, was asked that during yesterday’s daily press briefing. Pay attention to this dance recital. Fred Astaire would be proud.
Q: On the gay marriage issue, Jay, has the intensity of interest in this and the statements from some of the President’s supporters led him to consider clarifying his position? And considering that his views are evolving, does he want to maybe consider his views more thoroughly?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t have a readout of any conversations involving the President on that issue. I can tell you that I’m sure it is the case that he will be asked again at some point when he gives interviews or press conferences about this issue, and I’ll leave it to him to describe his personal views.
I think it’s important to note, as I attempted to do yesterday, that what is abundantly clear is this President’s firm commitment to the protection of and securing of the same rights and obligations for LGBT citizens as other Americans enjoy. He has been a strong proponent of LGBT rights, and I think that’s demonstrated by his record, which is unparalleled, as President in support of those rights.
Q: Jay, you said yesterday on this issue in reference to Vice President Biden’s remarks and the President’s, that the President’s personal views obviously were evolving, and you stressed the personal views. I guess is there maybe a disconnect between his policies and his personal views in terms of maybe his policies are ahead of his personal views on this?
MR. CARNEY: No, I don’t think so. I think the President’s absolute commitment to the rights of LGBT citizens demonstrated by the path he took to ensure the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the opposition that he and his administration have expressed towards DOMA and the fact that he believes it ought to be repealed. It is also the case that the President and the Attorney General believe that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, which is why the federal government no longer defends Section 3. And from hate crimes legislation to hospital visitation rights, the list of accomplishments is quite long and I think demonstrates his feelings about, broadly, this issue.
Q: Do you think he’ll talk about it with Cuomo considering he’s received a lot of plaudits from the LGBT community?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think — I don’t know what their conversations will contain. I know that they’ll focus on the issue that the President has come to discuss in upstate New York. I think the President has taken a position on some of these state issues, and I think he did on New York and he has in North Carolina. And I think the position he takes has — the positions he has taken are consistent with his belief that it is wrong to take actions that would deny rights to LGBT citizens or rescind rights already provided to LGBT Americans. And that’s a position that you can fully expect him to maintain.
Since when has marriage been a right?
I’ve never seen the word “marriage” listed in the Constitution under “inalienable rights”, nor in the Bill of Rights itself.
With 62% of America’s population (31 states) voting against Gay Marriage, I believe other Americans haven’t either.