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Mayoral candidates praise president's action

May 13, 2012 (San Diego)—Declarations by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in support of gay marriage last week have sparked reactions around the world.

Republican Presidential candidate reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.  “I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” he affirmed.

But in California and San Diego, many political leaders on both the left and right have praised the president’s actions.  


San Diego’s Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders  lauded the President’s action.  “I think there finally comes a time when you say `I’ve gotta do what’s right, and I think that’s exactly what the President’s done. It’s what I did,” said Sanders, whose daughter has a same-sex partner.

San Diego voters have been at the forefront of breaking down barriers by electing gay and lesbian office holders.  In the Mayoral race, two of the candidates, Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis, are gay and their opponents have both come out in support of same-sex marriage. 

Dumanis is married to her long-time partner and has been a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage rights.  DeMaio has drawn heat, however, for accepting money from leaders in the anti-gay marriage movement. 

Two other candidates have shifted their views on the issue over time.  Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, also a Mayoral candidate, said back in 2010 in a Voice of San Diego interview that he believed marriage was “between a man and a woman.”  But in more recent media interviews, he has stated that if elected, he would follow in Sanders’ footsteps as a champion of gay marriage.  “Absolutely,” he said in a recent interview with LGTB weekly.  Fletcher, a former Marine who recently left the Republican party to become a registered independent,  has also supported repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military. 

Congressman Bob Filner, the Democratic Mayoral candidate, has voted against the Marriage Protection Act in 2004 but previously voted for it back in 1996. The measure defined marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman.  “I didn’t consider it deeply enough,” said Filner, who now says he supports same-sex marriage.

“I commend President Obama for supporting Americans who deserve equal rights, equal respect and equal recognition,” said California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who pushed the issue to the national forefront when he initiated the marriage of same-sex couples at City Hall while serving as Mayor of San Francisco.  His efforts led to a backlash that resulted in passage of Proposition 8 outlawing gay marriage; the measure was later found unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court. "The fight is not over," Newsom vowed.  "I hope the President's support of same-sex marriage leads to legislation action that protects the rights of all our citizens."

President Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage last week in an ABC news interview. He stated that he made the decision after several years of talking with friends, neighbors, his daughters, and members of his own staff who are in committed same-sex relationships.

“When I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that `don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point 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 stated on “Good Morning America.”   He added that his views have gone through an evolution, since he previously thought civil unions would be sufficient and because was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage evokes powerful religious meaning.

Around the world, leaders have also spoken out on both sides of the President’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, which is expected to serve as a catalyst for gay-rights activism around the world.

Same-sex marriage is already legal in some countries including Canada, Argentina and Spain.  In Brazil, a court ruling extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. 

It remains illegal in some other nations.  Opposition remains strong in some conservative Muslim controlled countries, such as Egypt, where laws prohibiting “debauchery” have been used to imprison gay individuals in recent years. Opposition to gay marriage has also been strong from some other religious groups including the Catholic Church, although the Vatican has not made a public statement on Obama’s recent change of views on same-sex marriage.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage has been introduced in Australia’s Parliament, however Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she will oppose it despite her Labor Party’s support.  “I think is just reinforces this as a matter that people form their own views on, a deeply personal question people will think about, work their way through it. Obviously President Obama has, and he’s announced a decision.”

A poll by USA Today/Gallup found that 51 percent of Americans polled said they supported President Obama’s position on gay marriage, while 45 percent disapproved.   Roughly a quarter (26 percent) said they would be less apt to vote for him, while 13 percent said they would be more apt to support his reelection. 

How voters viewed the President’s announcement in support of same-sex marriage varied widely by party.  Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent) said his position would not influence their vote, while almost half (46 percent) of Republicans and 63 percent of independent voters said that their votes would not be influenced by the issue. 


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