Last week, President Obama announced – in the middle of an interview with ABC – that his position on gay rights had changed/evolved over the course of his first term. While he had run for president in 2008 on a platform of civil unions and states rights (meaning each state gets to determine what their own marriage laws will be), Obama’s newposition is “gay marriage for everybody!” Sort of. He basically just said that everybody who wants to get married should be able to, and vocalized his own support for complete marriage equality. It’s become a big deal – much bigger than I was anticipating, honestly. Everybody has an opinion on Obama’s new stance, and everyone is scrambling to do new polling on the issue.
There’s some evidence to indicate that Obama might be facing some backlash by the very group that came out in droves to support him in 2008: African-Americans. Gay rights and gay marriage are still a divisive issue in the African-American community, because of (I believe) the social-conservative focus of the Baptist church. I think that in the coming weeks and months, we’ll be seeing more prominent African-American celebrities, pundits, writers and politicians weigh in on Obama’s new stance, and what it means for the sometimes gay-rights-wary African-American community. And so it has already begun – Jay-Z, an Obama supporter, just told CNN that he too supports marriage equality:
Jay-Z has come out in support of President Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage. In a recent interview with CNN, the rapper said he believed supporting gay marriage was “the right thing to do.”
“I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back,” Jay-Z said, referencing the fact that same-sex marriage is not recognized nationwide. “What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple.”
Though he was in Philadelphia to appear alongside Mayor Michael Nutter and announce a two-day music festival in early September, Jay-Z sat down with CNN’s Poppy Harlow to chat about broader issues. When he was asked if he felt Obama’s decision to come out in favor of the right of same-sex couples to marry would cost him votes (particularly with the African-American community), he shrugged. “It’s really not about votes,” he said. “It’s about people.”
Née Shawn Corey Carter, the rapper said he saw America’s lackluster economy as an opportunity. “This is a test of our character. You know, for a long time, you know, we had it pretty good in America,” he said. “We were floating on this high. Well, we were hiding some of the troubles that we were going through. So, I just see this as a test of our character. I think we’ll get there and we test the resolve of Americans. Just to remind us that we have that fight. We haven’t had such a fight since the Great Depression.”
I think a lot of people will focus on Jay-Z’s wording, especially his use of “you can CHOOSE to love whoever you love.” If you want to parse, yes, he should have said“people are born that way (props to Gaga) and it’s nobody’s business.” But I’m choosing to focus on this part – “It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple.” That’s always been one of the central arguments of the gay-rights movement. It’s simply the way people are born, you can’t discriminate against someone for the way they were born, and it’s no different than being born with a certain skin color. Honestly, I really like Jay-Z for talking about this because… like, where’s Oprah on this important debate? Where’s Condi Rice? Where’s Colin Powell? Where’s Toni Morrison? And on and on.
Photos courtesy of WENN.