“I’m not in favor of gay marriage”. That was Senator Barack Obama’s response to a question on same-sex marriage, asked during a town-hall meeting in Columbus,IN on Friday. I reported Thursday that Senator Obama has declined all media request from the GLBT press since his Senate run in 2004. I was surprised by both the question and his answer.
The question came from the top of the rafters in the packed high school gym. Gage Watson, a 16 year old openly gay student from Brown County, IN posed the question to the presidential hopeful. “Senator Obama, Thanks for coming first of all. I’m very politically active, right now, and I’ve noticed that actually some issues important to many have kind of been pushed aside, such as Darfur but mainly gay marriage. What can you do with your power to insure that we all have equal rights to marry?” The crowd erupted with cheers and applause. I must admit, I almost leapt from my seat in the press-pin.
Sadly there were a few people who clapped for the beginning of Obama’s response, “I’m not in favor of gay marriage…” You could see people searching the crowd. Looking for the faces of the people that could publicly agree with such a sentiment. Attention quickly focussed back to the Senator as he finished his thought, “but I am in favor of a very strong civil union. Which allows same sex couples to transfer property, to share social security benefits, to be recognized legally by the state for their relationship. I think that is very important.”
It is refreshing to see young people, like Watson, willing to stand up and ask the questions the media has been barred from asking. Especially in a religiously conservative area like Columbus. I was taken back to time when asking something like that publicly would get you booed and maybe even physically assaulted. Times are changing and even Obama recognizes that fact. “I’ve noticed that attitudes have changed, especially among young people, I think that’s a healthy thing.”
Obama went on to say, “Under our constitution, every one is supposed to get treated equally.” I am glad to hear that he thinks that gay people are PEOPLE deserving of all the rights and privileges afforded by the Constitution of the United States. “We have 1,200 federal benefits that currently are not conferred to same sex couples and that is not fair. You don’t have to agree with someone’s lifestyle to say that they should be treated equally by the state.”
So what’s still missing from his response? Resolve. A public pledge to end the federal discrimination suffered unto the GLBT community. But I really don’t see that coming down the pipe. After all he is still not speaking to the GLBT press. While I was given a press-pass, to cover the various town hall meetings and such, I was still denied access to the man himself. Carly Nation, from the Bedford Times-Mail, was given a 5 minute video interview with Senator Obama. WTF?!? That paper is based out of a county with less than 45,000 people. My county has over 160,000 people, not counting the students at IU. To pour a little salt in the wound, they gave a couple of high schoolers the chance to interview him. Teens asking Senator Obama his fav food and fav color?
After talking with Watson I can see that Obama is losing ground in Indiana, especially among the GLBT youth. “I’m disappointed in him. I heard he wont talk to gay reporters. That’s a shame. Hillary at least talks to us and supports us.” Watson also told me that many of his peers feel the same way. That Obama doesn’t really support gay rights, he just kind of says he does when asked in a public forum.
Wait….Didn’t he go on Ellen? Does that count as GLBT press?