President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage symbolic
Many people are either praising or criticizing President Obama's show of support for same-sex marriage. But what does it mean going forward? Our Kat De Maria asks the experts.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- “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," President Obama said.
Before President Obama's announcement Wednesday, it was touted as a historical political and cultural moment. Cultural? Absolutely.
"When you have the leader of your country standing up and saying this group of people in his mind should be entitled to all the same rights and protections that everyone else has in this country when it comes to marriage, it's very affirming," said Charles Sprock Jr., National LGBT Bar Foundation President.
Political? Sure. The debate continues about whether what's being called the president's evolution of opinion will help or hurt his re-election bid.
Experts say the timing had more to do with the vice president's affirmation of same-sex marriages and the vote against them in North Carolina. But it distinguishes the president from his presumptive opponent, Mitt Romney.
Policy wise, though, advocates admit the president's opinion is really just that, although it could influence the tone at the federal level.
"There are many ways in which the federal government recognizes the benefits of marriage and it's very important the federal government follows the president's evolution," said NYCLU CNY Chapter Director Barrie Gewanter.
In his announcement, the president recapped his administration's actions on LGBT issues, like rolling back "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Marriage equality is making its way through Congress and the courts. And experts say the president's opinion won't impact those separate institutions. But it may influence other people personally.
"Perhaps this will move the American public along in their evolution in being comfortable with lesbian and gay relationships that very much looks like a heterosexual marriage. I think that's where the biggest influence is going to be," Sprock said.