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Sam Stein

Posted: 05/09/2012 2:55 pm Updated: 05/09/2012 7:34 pm

WASHINGTON — In a nod to a dramatic shift in public opinion, Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first sitting president to announce his support for same-sex marriage.

In a sit-down interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Obama completed what has been a markedly long and oft-mocked evolution on the matter.

“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview that will air in full on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

(Watch ABC’s entire clip below)

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, 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,” he said.

The statement constitutes an act of political bravery on the president’s behalf, as well as a major victory for the gay rights community, which has been pushing him to declare his support for marriage equality for several years. With the issue back in the news this week, the pressure intensified.

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Michael Steele: Gay Marriage Is Bad For Small Businesses

RUSS BYNUM | May 16, 2009 12:47 PM EST | AP

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

As Steele talked about ways the party could position itself, he also poked fun at his previous pledge to give the GOP a “hip-hop makeover.”

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During the same historic week in which marriage equality was passed in Maine, the Republicans — the self-proclaimed party of emancipation and “the liberty tree” — attempted to derail hate crimes legislation with some political trickery that succeeded in allowing Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to accuse the Democrats of protecting pedophiles. Stay with me on this.

Rep. Steve King (R-Batshittia) introduced an amendment to the hate crimes bill calling for the term “sexual orientation” to exclude “pedophiles” even though the bill specifically defines sexual orientation as “consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.” Pedophelia, as everyone knows, is nonconsensual no matter who engages in it.

Not only was King insinuating the derogatory stereotype that homosexuals are pedophiles, but his amendment would’ve further validated this stereotype by writing it into the legal record. By the way, Joe the Plumber — another very serious leader of the Republican Party — advanced the same stereotype this week when he said that he’d never let his “gay friends” anywhere near his kids. Classy. Nevertheless, King making this kind of distinction is sort of like amending civil rights legislation with: “the term ‘African Americans’ shall not include anyone who rapes white women.” It elevates a stereotype while denying one exists. Pretty slick — in a creepy, sinister kind of way.

Obviously, the point of King’s amendment was neither to help to separate the LGBT community from nonconsensual sexual deviants, nor was it designed to make sure pedophiles weren’t covered under the hate crimes law. King’s intention was absolutely to trick Democrats into voting against the amendment — and they did — thus allowing the Republicans to say that Democrats are with the pedophiles.

So the Republicans are seeking a way out of their current mess by defining the Democrats as the party of pedophilia, even though the GOP’s previous attempts to paint the Democrats as the pro-terrorist, anti-American party failed miserably to prevent landslide Democratic victories in the last two general elections.

But of course King’s stupid amendment trick allowed Sean Hannity to repeat throughout his Tuesday night show things like, “Is it safe to say that Democrats were willing to protect pedophiles?” Limbaugh, meanwhile, remarked that the Democrats are “carving out protection for perverts.” This from a guy who successfully wiggled out of a legal situation involving the possession of prescription E.D. meds (not in his name) during a stag trip to a destination apparently known for sexual tourism.

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