President Obama On Gay Marriage: Sasha and Malia Lead the Way

Even as North Carolina takes its balls to the wall stance against gay marriage by barring it in its state constitution, even as the conservative right sharpens its pitch forks to burn him in the upcoming presidential election, even as some of the most ridiculously nasty anti-gay sentiment I’ve ever witnessed races across my social media networks, I’m proud of President Obama for finally stating succinctly and clearly so that nobody gets it twisted: He thinks gay Americans should be able to get married and receive the same benefits and protections as heterosexual married couples.

President Obama’s stance, which he revealed yesterday in an interview with ABC News, makes him the first sitting president to say this out loud, in front of cameras, for the entire world to hear. Though he’d long publicly fudged his stance on the issue, Obama said in the ABC News interview that it was his daughters, Sasha and Malia, who made his thoughts on gay marriage evolve.

“You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently,” President Obama said. “It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

And a child shall lead the way.

Surely, there are plenty who are disgusted by President Obama’s view on this deeply polarizing issue—folks who think love and sex between people of the same gender is an abomination against God, and even lesbian and gay proponents, who are dismissing his stance as a political ploy to drum up support and campaign cash from apathetic young voters and politically disenfranchised homosexuals.

To this, I simply say, it’s about time. I’ve never quite understood the point of writing INTO our laws specific rules barring some Americans in committed relationships from the same rights and benefits of others, based on the “equipment” couples use when they’re having sex. Be clear: gay love comes with a heavy price: same-sex couples in committed relationships tend to pay higher taxes than married couples; they receive no Social Security survivor benefits when their partner dies, despite paying payroll taxes; they’re denied healthcare, disability, military and other benefits heterosexual couples enjoy; when they have babies, they can’t take time off under the Family  and Medical Leave Act to bond with and care for their children, and; if one parent in a same-sex couple union dies, there is no legal guarantee that the surviving parent can raise, visit or support the child he/she loves and helped to raise, and the child is not entitled to any of the surviving parent’s benefits, like healthcare and social security.

In essence, denying legal marriage to same-sex couples hurts families and children. And under no circumstances am I ever cool with that. Not to mention, as columnist David Horsey so eloquently writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece today, doing so is just so… un-American. It’s not about marriage rights. It’s about equal rights.

This too is a traditional ideal and has the added force of being imbedded in our Constitution: No citizen can claim more rights than another; all people are created equal. So, if state or federal governments offer tax advantages, legal protections or special privileges to married people, then every citizen should be allowed to marry. The U.S. Constitution does not pass judgment. It is not the Bible. There is no exception based on what a citizen does in the bedroom or with whom he or she does it. Equal protection under the law is the right of every American.

Indeed. Which circles me back around to the little darlings, Sasha and Malia, whose friendships and dinner table talk inspired their dad to evolve. Children are amazing like that, aren’t they? No judgment. No sully. Just fair. Kids are BIG on fair, and in this instance, Sasha and Malia encouraged their dad to think about what’s fair.

We parents are fully aware that it is our responsibility to teach our babies right from wrong, to guide them as they make their long, slow march to adulthood—to keep them, as my mom used to say, from killing their fool selves. But what a revelation it is when you wake up one day and realize somewhere along your parenting journey, your kids were teaching you, too?

Shout out to Sasha and Malia for helping their daddy evolve. And kudos to President Obama for saying what he should have said a long time ago: gay couples should be able to get married. Period.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Well said, Denene! Taxpayers should have equal rights!

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