Opinion: Marriage equality and the face of change

I’m really proud of my President this week. In a bold political move, Obama finally took a vocalized stance on his 18 month “evolving” position on same-sex marriage. His advocacy for equality under the law and in society for “every single American” is now an integral part of his campaign platform. Despite his period of ambiguity, he was considered the best chance supporters of same-sex marriage had for change. Now, he’s the face of that change.

As much we would like to believe the President’s endorsement of same-sex marriage will directly lead to legislative change on a federal level, we must keep our feet on grounded in reality. The fight for the equality of all Americans will continue to be a painstaking, arduous process. As this is currently an issue left to the states, Obama’s authority is deeply limited in this matter. Likely more influential to this issue is our nation’s Supreme Court. A ruling in the courtroom establishing the constitutional protection of the LGBT community’s civil rights and liberties will garner the expansive change sought by LGBT equality activists.

Obama may not be the one-and-done solution many of us same-sex marriage supporters wish for, but he is an instrumental piece to the movement. By finally verbally advocating for marriage equality, the President is now a veritable beacon of hope for the LGBT community and its supporters; a prominent leader in the political sphere which is something the LGBT civil rights movement has lacked to this point – centralized, national leadership.

The myriad LGBT civil rights groups and individual activists whose assiduous work has led to significant progression on the marriage equality front now have headship with the first standing presidential backing in history. You can say Obama’s move was calculated, but he instilled unprecedented inspiration among the LGBT community and supporters, and united inspiration in all states regardless of same-sex legality, which mobilized the discussion around same-sex marriage equality more aggressively than anything to date.

It’s our president’s job to lead in the face of adversity, and now that his stance on same-sex marriage equality is manifested, his attention will shift to other important issues that challenge our country, as his attentiveness should. His support is uplifting and moving, and shows us how powerful national leadership can be.

From all the media coverage and the public discourse surrounding Obama’s “evolution,” I hope we see an activist, or many, emerge as nationally recognized leaders in the LGBT civil rights movement while the President focuses on his re-election. Obama will still be an integral constituent to the movement, but a leader outside of the political realm could be advantageous not only to work as “key” to the president’s “lock” for legislative changes down the road, but also for distancing a particular party affiliation to the movement. It’s important this does not become a political chess piece – this movement is about the equality of all Americans, both liberal and conservative.

Attributing a face to change is imperative to progress for any movement of any kind: a person can accept responsibility for progression, a leader can inspire the hopeless and a president can set a precedent. Obama sparked the torch of united inspiration, but it’s our job as supporters of same-sex marriage to carry it and keep it lit. This united inspiration is a testament of the convictions of the LGBT civil rights movement – a birth of revolution. Our responsibility now is to leverage his leadership the best we can through education on the issue, contributing to public discourse and by taking peaceful physical action.

Obama reminds us that we are present in a time of historical change. In the words of Elizabeth Warren, “We must decide what kind of people we are and what kind of nation we are going to build.”

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