The issue of gay marriage is again front and center on the political campaign with President Obama announcing his support Wednesday and Republican candidate Mitt Romney responding during his Omaha visit on Thursday.
Romney reiterated his position on same sex marriage. “This is a very tender and sensitive topic and people have differing views on it. I have long believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I respect the president for his opinion, but it's different than mine."
Thirty-one states have approved a constitutional amendment barring same sex marriage, including Nebraska. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s declaration by President Obama in support of gay marriage, the Archdiocese of Omaha issued it's own statement, saying in part, "President Obama's words are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage."
Many consider it a risk, a big risk, but he said it and he said it out loud. President Obama supports same sex marriage.
“I was very proud of him, that was very courageous of him to do that,” said Mike Yowell of the Council Bluffs Community Alliance. “He took a big political risk, but I think he took the right risk ‘cause he'll be on the right side of history whether or not it impacts his election at all in November."
Local supporters of gay marriage are hoping the president’s stance helps make change in Nebraska, where same sex marriage is not legal.
“Hearing the president make such a remarkable stand definitely shows a shift towards equality and a shift in our state,” said Beth Rigatusso, president of Heartland Pride. “Ben Gray just pushed the equal Omaha ordinance and that was passed by our City Council. I think there’s a lot of very positive things happening in regards to equal treatment for GLBTQ people.”
The opposing view comes from Romney, who moved more to the right when he came out against same sex marriage and in Omaha that's exactly what his supporters wanted to hear. "I think marriage should be between a man and a woman,” said Romney supporter Mark Cohn. “I think that's where Romney stands.”
“I think marriage should be between a man and a woman and I think it should be a national law,” said Romney supporter Dorothy Draper.
“No president has ever stated that they were for gay marriage and I'm not for it at all myself period,” said Romney supporter Pat McGill. “I think it is a good path going straight down.”
Some worry that the discussion of the gay marriage issue is nothing more than politics as usual. “What’s interesting is these issues always come up in a political time, in voting times, I think, ” said Rigatusso. “Someone else has an agenda, I think the agenda is let’s get these people up off their butts and into voting booths.”
Those on both sides of the debate agreed that controversial issues like same sex marriage bring more people to the polls.
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