Gay-Marriage Speech Obama Should Give

The president's new campaign slogan is "Forward." On same-sex marriage, that's where he should go.

Older Voters

Older voters are more skeptical of same-sex marriage, but across the political spectrum, everyone favors showing some backbone. Even voters who don’t support same-sex marriage — or Obama — can see someone taking a stand. If the president waits until fall — or the start of a second term — he won’t get much credit for standing up on the issue.


Last weekend the Obama campaign unveiled its new slogan: “Forward.” And though it’s really meant as shorthand for “Things are tough, but they could have been worse, and they’re gonna get better” — the deal is that if you go with “Forward” as your slogan, you ought to move forward, including on same-sex marriage.

The Right Thing

And, of course, it’s the right thing to do. Gay marriage is now legal in six states plus the District of Columbia, and as time passes on, that number will only move “Forward.”

Plus, the issue gives Obama a chance to reprise the optimistic themes in his widely heralded March 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech, in which he brought the nation together with his exposition on the state of American race relations. If he gave a speech –maybe “A More Perfect Same-Sex Union”– he could explain why he has hesitated to support gay marriage and why he supports it now. This is what he could say:

My generation came of age in a world where gays and lesbians stayed in the closet. In recent years, they’ve courageously come out and lived their lives openly but still don’t have the right to marry. Now it’s time to recognize that you don’t have to personally favor same-sex marriage to accept that the American value of equal treatment under the law means that everyone should have that legal right — and that the hopes and dreams of same-sex married couples don’t come at the expense of anyone else’s hopes and dreams. 

More and more, people from every walk of life — regardless of color, creed or orientation — work together, go to school together and fight together under the same proud flag. This is the America that we want.

And this time around, it’s been the younger generation — and the perpetually young vice president — who’ve helped older folks like me come to see that whether a marriage is between a man and a woman, between two men or between two women, every American ought to be able to live and love as he or she chooses.

David Swerdlick is a contributing editor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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