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Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives, but political effects not yet clear
President Barack Obama addressing a gay rights group in 2011.
May 9th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives, but political effects not yet clear

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday outraged conservative Christian leaders, who vowed to use it as an organizing tool in the 2012 elections, but the move is also activating the liberal base, raising big questions about who gains and loses politically.

“It cuts both ways - it activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,” said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. “The most likely effect is that it makes an already close election even closer.”

In an interview with ABC News, Obama said, "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."

The announcement puts Obama at odds with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage and who voiced that opposition in an interview on Wednesday.

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"Considering that 10 of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the president's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election,” said Tony Perkins, president of the the conservative Family Research Council.

“The president has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger, Mitt Romney," Perkins continued. "Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama."

Obama stressed in the interview that his support was personal and that he would leave the issue of marriage to the states. But many conservatives chafed at the idea that the president's personal views would not affect public policy.

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement saying the president's comments were "deeply saddening." Dolan's statement continued, "I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

Bishop Harry Jackson, the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church outside of Washington, DC, said that "I think the president has been in this place for awhile and that he chose this time because he thought that it might shift the balance of power." Jackson has long campaigned against same-sex marriage.

Ralph Reed, a top organizer among religious conservatives, said Obama’s announcement was a “gift to the Romney campaign.”

Romney, a Mormon who has evolved to a more conservative position on hot button social issues, has struggled with his party's largely evangelical conservative base in the primaries. But Reed said Obama’s gay marriage support would help Romney in many battleground states.

“The Obama campaign doesn’t have to worry about New York and California,” Reed said. “They have to worry about Ohio, Florida and Virginia and I don’t’ see evidence that it’s a winning issue in those states.”

Green said that public opinion about gay marriage has been shifting dramatically in recent years, with some polls showing more support than opposition. Green said that in many battlegrounds, including Ohio, it's impossible to nail down current public opinion on same-sex marriage. A Gallup Poll conducted this month found that 50% of American adults support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while 48% oppose it.

Reed noted that same-sex marriage bans have passed in virtually every state they have appeared on the ballot, including in North Carolina on Tuesday. That’s a typically red state that Obama won in 2008 and that is the site of the Democrat's 2012 convention.

Many liberal groups were ecstatic over Obama’s support for gay marriage. “Congratulations, Mr. President, for making history today by becoming the first sitting president to explicitly support marriage for same-sex couples,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

In his interview with ABC, Obama talked about squaring his decision with his personal religious faith.

“We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others,” Obama said, referencing his wife, Michelle.

“But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule,” he said. “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

One key Obama constituency that may be angered by his Wednesday announcement is African-Americans, who tend to be more religious than whites. Though they hew heavily Democratic, African-Americans are generally conservative on social issues like gay marriage.

- CNN's Eric Marrapodi, Shannon Travis, and Mary Snow contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Gay marriage

soundoff (2,108 Responses)
  1. John

    I am a Republican and I agree with Obame on this issue. Taxes and Spending is where I totally disagree with him.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • skarphace

      I am a Democrat, and I don't care that Romney is a Mormon. Tax and spending issues is where I disagree with him on.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Kyle

      finally, some people with conservative fiscal beliefs, and moderate or dare I say liberal social beliefs. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm much the same way and it pains me that so many people nowadays cannot dare mention that they agree with some aspects of both parties. It seems like to step outside EITHER party's dogma is heresy for which you can be blasted. Kind of sounds like religion doesn't it?

      May 10, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  2. Jim

    This Llifelong Democrat is also very sad. Most Democrats are Christians too.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • John

      But Democrats support getting Christmas out of our kids classrooms to appease the 1 atheist kid. Do you support Dems on that?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @John

      Santa Claus if fine in public schools but do not bring in god and religion unless it is a private school. What don't you understand about the 1st amendment and the establishment clause?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • skarphace

      John: if you want your kid to learn the Bible, send him to a private school.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • John

      The Santa compromise is fair. This is a Santa country!

      May 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Primewonk

      So if you're Christian, you have to hate the Constĭtution?

      That doesn't make a lot of sense. When did we become a theocracy?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ John – why isn't your kid learning about Christmas in your home and your church and in Sunday school?

      After all, do we come into your churches and demand that you think?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • John

      My kid is, and so did I when I was a kid. I went to a public school and we celebrated the 2 main holidays (Christmas and Hanukkah) there and it was a lot of fun and I had great memories. To be honest, I don't ever go to church, but I love Christmas because it is such a great holiday.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Patricksday

    The Religious Right never would of voted for President Obama, he is black for one thing, and for another he works with all people not just the ones the Church relies on for huge tax deductable donations.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  4. Pat

    Yeah, like they were going to vote for him, anyway. What a laugh!

    May 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  5. Elliot

    Social politics, it's always about the social issues. A million + homes have mortgages underwater and the main issues of discussion are going to be about abortion and gay rights. I can see where this is election year is going already, the politicians are going to ignore the real big issues and waste time discussing these issues. Let's figure out the real issues first.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Let's figure out the real issues first.'

      Denying people their civil rights is a real issue for t these families, especially their children.

      How about we deny all these rights to you, then see if you're still spewing the same nonsense!

      Tax Benefits
      -–Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
      -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

      Estate Planning Benefits
      -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
      -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
      -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
      -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.

      Government Benefits
      -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
      -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
      -–Receiving public as-sistance benefits.
      -–Employment Benefits
      -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
      -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
      -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
      -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.

      Medical Benefits
      -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
      -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

      Death Benefits
      -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
      -–Making burial or other final arrangements.

      Family Benefits
      -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
      -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
      -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
      -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

      Housing Benefits
      -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
      -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

      Consumer Benefits
      -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
      -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
      -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
      -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
      -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
      -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
      -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
      -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
      -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
      -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Elliot

      Gay marriage is not going to be legalized anytime soon on the federal level with all the evangelicals that stain this country, so yes it's a waste of time to deal with right now. Sorry.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Jim

      I agree....this is a non-issue, except to about 2% of the nation's population. They are very vocal though. President Obama likely flushed his chances down the drain today.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  6. DaveF

    Thank "GOD" for the separation of Church & State. Millions of American Citizens do not believe in the relieious garbage like priests and little boys. I do not believe in Jesus as God. He was a pious Jew – remember? & his teachings were basically on target. The so called religious zealots should look in the mirror and aploogize for theirpriests, murders,etc in Jesus's name so shut the hell up.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  7. History Bear

    Not a big Obama fan, but at least he's being upfront and honest. Now if he , and his fellow political parasites, would all be honest and take a sincere stand perhaps we'd actually get out of this mess.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  8. Ann

    Mr. Obama, have you received the green light from Rev. Wright on this issue? You got it from Michelle and the kids, but what about your mentor?

    May 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Observer

      So is he a Christian? a muslim? a communist? Can't you Obama-bashers ever make up your mind? You make Mitt look consistent.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • skarphace

      So you would ask Romney if he got the green light for his policies and personal stances from Joseph Smith?

      By the way, you do know that Mormons are NOT Christian, right? If you want to get into this debate, I am more than willing.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  9. History Bear

    the problem with religious conservatives is that they want to run your life according to their beliefs. They are generally intolerant, hypocritical and pompous. Imagine, believing in a diety that you say is all powerful and yet needs your puny help to correct what is supposedly wrong in others......I'm a dietist and god doesn't need our help to do anything. That is why he's god. (or she as the case may be)

    May 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • skarphace

      Unfortunately, religious conservatives consist of a very large, vocal, and politically active segment of our society. As long as this is true, our politicians will have to adher, to at least a certain extent, to their will.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  10. Eric G

    Well done Mr. President........
    Now, if he would only say that he is an atheist, he would be the perfect candidate.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Unfortunately that would be political suicide.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • skarphace

      I also believe that an athiest would make a better President than a religious one. However, this will not happen in America anytime soon. We have a better chance at electing a Mormon than we do an athiest. Unfortunately.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Former Republican, now an Independent

    As an Evangelical Chritian, I adamantly disagree with the President on this issue, However, I have to respect the fact that he is up front about his opinion. This is in contrast to Mitt Romney and all of the current day republicans who give only lip service to Christian values and ignore them once elected. I am tired of being lied to and used!

    May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Smeagel4T

      "I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it." — Rev. Billy Graham

      May 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Even though I am absent of a god I do respect your opinion and your post made sense.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • skarphace

      Smeagel: that was before we elected a minority as President.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Primewonk

      So you think we live in a theocracy? We don't. We are not a christian nation. Your version of a god (and all other versions of all other gods) has no legal standing in our laws.

      Why do you think you should have the right to deny equal right to all US citizens?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  12. NotFooledByDistractions

    So the Christian conservatives want to restrict civil rights for others. Why am I not surprised. I doubt many in that camp were going to vote for Obama anyway – especially the social neanderthals supporting organizations like the Family research council et. al.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  13. EnjaySea

    Good for Obama! The nitwits and hillbillies that want discrimination enshrined in the constitution weren't going to vote for him anyway.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Dave

    Good , the more we anger the small minded bigots with issues of equality, womens rights to their bodies, and keeping religion out of Public Schools, the more America can grow beyond Medieval thinking.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  15. Saywhatyoumean

    I don't give a crap what any of these religious bigots think, there self-professed "spiritual authority" is meaningless.
    The only spiritual authority I allow over me is Christ. Before any of you start throwing Bible verses out at me, I let his spirit lead me, not a compilation of letters that may or may not be accurate or even for us today.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  16. Russ

    Sad that the Obamas (as "practicing Christians") do not understand the Golden Rule.

    "Loving your neighbor" is most clearly defined on the cross (Jn.15:13).
    It means loving them enough to say "no" to anything self-destructive (sin).
    Even if – as it did for Jesus – it costs you your (political) life...

    May 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      HEY RUSS! CAN YOU HEAR ME? GO F*UCK YOURSELF!

      May 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      So, apparently Jesus put Obama in charge of people's personal lives? You? Christians in general? ...or maybe you just like to use religion as a pretext to assert authority over others. I'm sure that's what Jesus had in mind.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Russ: Thank you for giving us your interpretation of a religious text. Under what authority do you make a claim that your interpretation is correct?

      May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • skarphace

      Russ: exactly wrong. "Loving your neighbor" does not mean judging them.

      Back to school with you. Pronto.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "It means loving them enough to say "no" to anything self-destructive"

      Having a long term loving committed relationship with their partners is not self destructive. Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving relationship of a gay couple. What your god does condemn is male prostitution, idolatry and pagan worships using sex.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      It appears that President Obama is the one who actually follows the Golden Rule as opposed to all the Christian hypocrites who just preach, but don't follow it.

      It appears that you may have missed the Bible statements on judging others also.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Daniel Wall: yes, Jesus did very much have our personal lives in mind.
      Check out Jn.7:53-8:11. An adulterous woman is brought to him. He runs off all her accusers – but then tells her "go & sin no more."
      And yes, the state bears authority (Rom.13:1f) but is also responsible to God for the manner in which the state executes its authority (Acts 5:29).

      May 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Check out Jn.7:53-8:11. An adulterous woman is brought to him. He runs off all her accusers – but then tells her "go & sin no more.""

      Everyone knows the story about Jesus and the woman about to be stoned by the mob. This account is only found in John 7:53-8:12. The mob asked Jesus whether they should stone the woman (the punishment required by the Old Testament) or show her mercy. Jesus doesn’t fall for this trap. Jesus allegedly states, let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her. The crowd dissipates out of shame. That story was not originally in the Gospel of John or in any of the Gospels. It was added by later scribes. The story is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John. Nor does its writing style comport with the rest of John. Most serious textual critics state that this story should not be considered part of the Bible.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      Jesus had much to say about hetero relations and much of it was bad.

      Here's what he said about gays: Nothing. Zero. Nada. Nill, Zip. Zilch.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Eric G: unlike some less clear passages in Scripture, this one is abundantly clear.
      1) the Bible clearly teaches that this is a sin.
      2) the Bible is even more abundantly clear that love is not being ok with self-destructive behavior.
      3) Jesus gives the Golden Rule as secondary to the Great Commandment: Love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength.
      It's impossible to love God with all you are while completely disregarding what he has said.
      4) Love is most clearly defined on the cross – which basically says "what you are doing is this messed up, but at the very same time, I love you this much."

      May 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ skarphace: exactly wrong. People love to quote Mt.7:2 and fail to keep reading. Jesus assumes you WILL judge your neighbor – in order to help him. He's simply calling us to judge with a deep awareness that we need mercy as much if not more than our neighbors.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      If you REALLY wanted to affect laws, why aren't you out complaining about the fact that 50 states allow divorce and remarriage which the Bible says is a TEN COMMANDMENT SIN of adultery.

      Just pick and choose what you like from the Bible.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: unfortunately for you, that is incorrect. read Romans 1 again.

      people claim Paul was simply unaware of the modern version of 'mutual, loving relationships' because they supposedly did not exist in Roman society as they do today. that is historically inaccurate.

      Read Plato's Symposium – Aristophanes' speech. He defines love exactly like Jerry Maguire does ("you complete me") – in a clearly ga.y relationship. Here's a VERY famous text from 400 years before Jesus, defining it in exactly the same way as you do. This was a prevailing ancient Roman view of love in a committed, g.ay relationship.

      Paul was responding to exactly the same idea – and still calling it a sin.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • YeahRight

      the Bible clearly teaches that this is a sin.

      No it doesn’t do you even know the definition of fornication?
      1. voluntary sexual intercourse outside marriage
      2. (Law) Law voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons of the opposite sex, where one is or both are unmarried
      3. (Christian Religious Writings / Bible) Bible sexual immorality in general, is adultery

      What the bible condemns is male prostitution, idolatry, and pagan worship using sex. Nowhere in your bible does you god condemn the loving respectful relationship of a gay couple.

      2) the Bible is even more abundantly clear that love is not being ok with self-destructive behavior.

      Being gay is NOT self-destructive behavior! All the major organizations around the world have state that. Plus The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured.”

      3) Jesus gives the Golden Rule as secondary to the Great Commandment: Love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength.

      Which gay Christians do, therefore they do NOT sin!

      “It's impossible to love God with all you are while completely disregarding what he has said.”

      They aren’t because gays are born this way and as long as they are saved before your god they do not sin.

      “ Love is most clearly defined on the cross – which basically says "what you are doing is this messed up, but at the very same time, I love you this much."

      You certainly are not demonstrating love when you are denying all the research we have today that shows it not a mental illness, it’s not a choice and it can’t be voluntarily changed and you are denying them their civil rights!

      May 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "people claim Paul was simply unaware of the modern version of 'mutual, loving relationships' because they supposedly did not exist in Roman society as they do today. that is historically inaccurate."

      That's why in Romans they were talking about worshiping a pagan god, that has NOTHING to do with what we now know and understand about gays today.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: your criticism of Jn.7:53-8:11 fails on this – Jesus made the same point repeatedly in how he dealt with people. Take John 5 (the lame man) for instance – he hunts him down after healing him & calls him out for his disobedience. And the primary content of Jesus preaching was "Repent, the kingdom is at hand." Repent = turn around/change/stop doing what you are doing & come back to God/etc...

      Even more problematically for you, Heb.12 says: God disciplines those he loves. LOVE is life-altering – not simply "stay like you are." God defines what love is – not us.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Here's a VERY famous text from 400 years before Jesus, defining it in exactly the same way as you do."

      That's why the word homosexual hadn't been invented during that time it was not the same thing. The hundred of thousands of experts around the world proved that what was written in the past about gays were done by bias and prejudice people, that includes the interpreters of your bible! LOL!

      May 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: you are more literal than the so-called literalists.
      So you think Jesus didn't comment on abortion either (which also existed)?
      In the same manner that he stressed the value of life, so also he stressed the integrity of marriage as God's intent – repeatedly.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Repent = turn around/change/stop doing what you are doing & come back to God/etc.."

      Again, nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Duh! You are so blinded by your personal prejudice.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: I'm not picking & choosing. I think adultery is a bigger problem (statistically speaking) for our nation. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't address issues as they arise.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright:
      1) you didn't read what I said about Plato's Symposium. the Bible is directly addressing what you are calling loving & thinking only to be a modern notion.
      2) citing psychological studies to prove something is acceptable when God has already clearly stated it is not fails to understand a basic premise of the Christian faith: "We must obey God, not men" (Acts 5:29).
      3) being "born that way" is not a viable excuse. would you affirm an alcoholic or pedophile who claimed 'God made me this way'? biblically, you are failing to understand the effects of the Fall (Gen.3). we are all born with fallen tendencies, but that does not make them God-approved.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "I'm not picking & choosing. I think adultery is a bigger problem (statistically speaking) for our nation. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't address issues as they arise."

      Yet you are not denying adulterer their basic civil rights now are you as they get married over and over again. DUH! What a hypocrite.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: you continue to make the same objection, when it's clear you have not read the material. Go read Aristophanes' Speech in Plato's Symposium. No, it does not use the word "ho.mo.se.xual." But it clearly describes the very thing you would call a loving, committed relationship between consenting adults. Your contention that it did not exist in the ancient world is mistaken. This was a widely read, educational text – from 400 years prior to Jesus.

      The Bible is responding to the very thing you are talking about. It is ethnocentric & historically inaccurate to think otherwise.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • YeahRight

      2) citing psychological studies to prove something is acceptable when God has already clearly stated it is not fails to understand a basic premise of the Christian faith: "We must obey God, not men" (Acts 5:29).

      Duh, many Christians would point out your god gave us this science to prove these truths or is your god not a living god. By the way there are thousands of churches, pastors, rabbi’s and nuns that have stated that gays and we know it today do not live in sin. Only prejudice bigots continue to read that into the scriptures. Part of reading comprehension 101 is putting the scriptures into historical context something you are NOT doing.

      “3) being "born that way" is not a viable excuse. would you affirm an alcoholic or pedophile who claimed 'God made me this way'? “

      Wow that is such a lame argument. Being born gay is totally different than your analogy. We are talking about it being more similar to being born with brown hair and blues eyes. Keep showing how much you really don’t understand about this REAL issue. You’re the one making the excuses to justify your prejudices.

      “ we are all born with fallen tendencies, but that does not make them God-approved.”

      Duh when you are created that way it does. You only see it as fallen because you are consumed with your own personal prejudices towards this group.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: are you purposefully misreading what I wrote? I do think adulterers should not be able to remarry until they have repented of their sins (which for most would mean going back to their spouse & remarrying them if possible).

      But that's not the real substance of your objection, anyway – and I think you know that. You are upset because the Bible prescribes heteros.exual relationships and not ho.mo.se.xual ones.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "But it clearly describes the very thing you would call a loving, committed relationship between consenting adults. Your contention that it did not exist in the ancient world is mistaken."

      Yo idiot it is NOT in your bible! The passages that Christians use to try and condemn gays has nothing to do with what we know and understand that they are born this way. What your scriptures are condemning is using sex to worship a pagan god, male prosttution and idolatry – especially when the definition of fornication is mainly used describe adultery!

      May 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright:
      I'm very interested in what 1000s of psychologists & rabbis say – but when it contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible, I recognize that science is a subjective, human enterprise.

      and the analogy is not different. technically, you can have a genetic disposition to alcoholism. again, a biblical Christian recognizes that as an effect of the Fall – not a way to avoid the clear teaching of Scripture.

      it is not prejudice to be willing to love someone enough to tell them when they are engaged in self-destructive behaviors & lifestyles. it would be unloving to ignore them or tell them to continue.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Russ

      So you only accepts things that don't clash with your view of the world, and reject anything else as subjective, or a product of the "fall" in order to incorporate it into your views. Talk about selective learning.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: again, you seem to be missing the flow of the logic here.
      1) the Bible calls ho.mo.se.xua.l acts a sin – in repeated various places.
      SO, you object that the word & the underlying content is different.
      2) I cite a pre-NT, widely read, educational, Hellenistic text that demonstrates the very nature of a committed, loving relationship that you claim only existed later.
      SO, you say "that's not the Bible!"
      3) my point: that text (and the Hellenized Roman society it represents) is exactly what Paul is responding to in the NT references to this issue, particularly Rom.1.

      Plato gives you the culture (which you claim didn't have the same understanding)...
      in the very form you articulate it (which you claim no one in that era did)...
      400 years before Jesus.

      Paul is calling these sorts of committed, ho.mo.se.xual relationships a sin. He's speaking to the same culture that Plato described 400 years EARLIER. It is the same idea today – and it is clearly dealt with in Scripture.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Russ – good thing that President Obama is Constĭtutional law scholar and understands the 14th amendment – the one that says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"

      Thankfully Russ, my country is not a theocracy. Whatever your version of a god wants, needs, desires, or demands, is irrelevant.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ HawaiiGuest: glad to have you in the conversation.

      To clarify: no, that's not what I'm saying. I've had my paradigms shifted multiple times in my life.
      And here's what I've concluded: God is the teacher, I am the student (as is the rest of humanity).

      I am VERY open to biblical discussion on ANY topic. But I recognize the real authority of Jesus – even when it is contrary to the broken desires of my own heart. I want to learn from God & my fellow students. But when the teacher speaks, He trumps the students.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Primewonk: i'm not calling for a theocracy. but EVERYONE's moral convictions are informed by their metaphysical ones. why else would you call them "rights"? according to whom or what?

      May 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Russ wrote, "Check out Jn.7:53-8:11"

      Good lord – that passage is a forgery added long after the original book of John was cobbled together. Seriously, do any of you fundiots ever read actual biblical scholars?

      May 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Russ

      "I'm very interested in what 1000s of psychologists & rabbis say – but when it contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible, I recognize that science is a subjective, human enterprise"
      A direct quote from you. Science is not subjective, no matter how much you might want it to be. The entire basis of science is objective data gathering to support a thought (not even a belief) in search of what is true and what isn't. If the data doesn't match the thought, then the thought is discarded. It was thought that hom.ose.xuality was a choice, that hyposthesis had no data to support it, and so was discarded and a new thought was brought up that had the data to support it. The only reason you don't like it is because your bible says so (according to your interpretation).

      May 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Russ – morals evolved. And they are not specific to humans. They are also not static. They change over time, location, and culture.

      Sounds like you need to spend less time listening to "Pastor Dave", and more time cracking open science journals. The problem is that "Pastor Dave" is just as ignorant about these things as you are.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Russ wrote, " I recognize that science is a subjective, human enterprise"

      This, of course, is pure unadulterated bullshĭt. It shows that you choose to be ignorant about science in general, and the scientific method in particular. As such, you choose to ignore that vast knowledge base of research showing the biological multivariate nature of sĕxual orientation, and instead choose to blindly believe in the ramblings of scientifically illiterate itinerant bronze-age shepherds.

      Sorry Russ, but you're just another fundiot nutter.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Primewonk:
      per your thoughts on Jn.7:53-8:11 – I already responded to your concerns above when 'yeahright' raised the same objection. i am very much aware of the scholars on this one.

      you said "morals evolved." but you are assuming an anthropocentric, closed system (no real Objective agent / divinity / Infinite). that is a huge leap (the finite, subjective agent assuming there is nothing Objective or Infinite) – and, more importantly, not a scientific one (as this is not a provable assumption). it is a no longer a scientific claim but a metaphysical claim you are making. and your appeal to science to answer a metaphysical question fails to understand the inherent limitations of science.

      science – by definition – is a subjective, human discipline of observation. not BS. by definition (not observation; not scientific method). and you are making metaphysical claims but calling them scientific. but don't take it from me, take it from an atheist: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith... that underlies our faith in science." (Nietzsche, the Gay Science)

      this is a philosophical issue long before it is a scientific one. appealing to science to address a philosophical underpinning of science fails to understand the true nature of the ethical debate. until you admit your metaphysical underpinnings, we're not actually addressing the real differences here. this is not a science vs. religion issue. this is a metaphysical claims vs. metaphysical claims issue.

      on what do you base your morality? as Nietzsche has noted above, "science" is not an honest answer.

      May 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Russ

      @ HawaiiGuest: read what I wrote to Primewonk above.

      Science is – philosophically speaking – inherently subjective. It is founded on subjective, human observation.

      I love science. It's the best human, data collection & review system we have. I'm all for it. but when people use science to make objective, metaphysical claims (such as here with ethics), they have forgotten the inherent limitations of science.

      May 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Erik

      "I'm all for it. but when people use science to make objective, metaphysical claims (such as here with ethics), they have forgotten the inherent limitations of science."

      Science right now is in agreement about homosexuality. All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

      In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

      But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

      This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

      May 10, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Russ

      @ Erik: you quote me, but then give two lengthy arguments that are not germane to the discussion.
      At no point did I argue for reparative therapy.
      At no point did I claim ho.mo.se.xuality was a choice.

      It certainly seems you did not read the above conversation.
      I really can't even see what your comments have to do with even what you quoted from me (even if taken out of context from the above conversation).

      May 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. skarphace

    Oh no! You mean that religious conservatives may not vote for Obama because of this issue?

    Well, guess what? They were never going to vote for him in the first place, so this has exactly no effect on his chances of winning in November.

    I know, it won't stop Teavangelists from having another soap box to condemn our President from, but that is par for the course.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • JLS639

      You are correct, skarphace, but don't think the GOP won't use this to say things that they will be distancing themselves from in 10 years (saying their position is "misinterpreted"). Mark my words: GOP anti-gay hatred is about to seriously heat up, and in 10 years they will claim that they were never really against gay marriage. Just like the Goldwater Republicans and Dixiecrats were never really against miscengenation or integration, but were merely standing up for the principle of "States' rights."

      May 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  18. David

    Beautiful...a President with guts enough to stand up for ALL Americans...bravo President Obama....you have my vote and I'm not gay....but you have earned my vote

    May 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Obama_Dog Eater

      Suuuure you're not gay, Davy Boy.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Smeagel4T

      He gets the vote of my wife and I as well.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • skarphace

      Dog Eater: more than just gays support Obama, and many moderates consider the gay marriage issue a non-issue. I am one of these. I don't care that Romney is a Mormon and I don't care to what extent Obama supports gay marraige.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Observer

      Dog Eater,

      Grow up. There are millions and millions of us heteros who support equal rights for gays.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  19. big mack

    It might not cost him his Presidential race but it will cost him.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Meaning what? Maybe that invisible unicorn in the clouds won't love him anymore? Too funny.

      May 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  20. Ben

    This could hurt him – especially in NC. Just read here: http://www.examiner.com/article/obama-at-odds-with-north-carolina-over-gay-marriage?cid=db_articles

    May 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      F*UCK NORTH CAROLINA!

      May 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.