WASHINGTON, MAY 11, 2012 (BULLETIN) (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first US Chief Executive to say publicly he was in favor of same-sex marriage, in a high-stakes intervention in a pre-election debate roiling American politics.

In what supporters will hail as a historic moment in civil rights history, Obama changed his stance, after previously saying he was “evolving” on gay marriage, a fiercely divisive issue in US politics.

“I've just concluded, 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,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News.

The president said however that a decision on whether to legalize gay marriage should be left to individual states. He also talked about how he and his wife Michelle had squared his decision with their 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.

“'But it's also the Golden Rule, you know – treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Obama, who previously backed strong protections for gay and lesbian couples but not full marriage, said his position had evolved after talking to his two daughters Malia and Sasha who had friends who had same-sex parents.

“It wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective,” Obama said in the interview.


In the Philippines, President Benigno S. Aquino III distanced himself from any move allowing same-sex marriage in the country.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Malacańang is leaving to the wisdom of the two houses of Congress whether they would pass a measure allowing the union of people of the same sex. Lacierda, however, emphasized that marriage remains a union between a man and woman as defined by the country's law at present.

“Marriage as defined under the Family Code is a union between a man and a woman. The issue of same-sex marriage is best left to the sound discretion of the legislature,” Lacierda said when asked if the President supports gay marriage.

While Aquino distanced himself from the issue, Reps. Antonio Tinio (ACT Party-list) and Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela party-list) lauded Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage although the decision triggered a wave of protest from religious organizations in the US.

But members of the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) dared President Aquino to “make the first few baby steps” toward protecting the human rights against LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders) if not for same-sex marriage.

At the Philippine Senate, Senator Francis Pangilinan said he does not share the same stand with Obama. “Not everything that the US does is applicable to the Philippines.”

Pressure On Obama

Obama came under increasing political pressure on gay marriage after Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage.

Some political analysts have warned that Obama could be entering a political minefield, with some key voting blocs in swing states that he hopes to court in November's election opposing gay marriage.

On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina, a state Obama narrowly carried in the 2008 election, approved a state constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The measure was passed by 61 percent to 39 percent after similar state constitutional amendments had been approved in some 30 US states.

The amendment solidifies and expands already enacted North Carolina law forbidding same-sex marriage.

Religious conservatives condemned Obama for his move, which will set up an interesting bout with Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney for the affections of independent voters on the issue.

Romney said on Wednesday he did not “favor marriage between people of the same gender,” and also opposed civil unions.

Gay rights supporters praised Obama for his move, which may have the potential to fire up his political base, which had been less excited about his reelection bid than it was about his first candidacy four years ago.

“President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society,” said Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign.

“His presidency has shown that our nation can move beyond its shameful history of discrimination and injustice.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also praised Obama's move.

“This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights,” Bloomberg said.

“No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people – and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”

But reaction against Obama's comments were just as plentiful.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, called Obama's comments “deeply saddening,” while some conservative groups said the incumbent had compromised any chance he had at re-election.

“President Obama stuck a fork in himself today. He's done. He's toast,” said Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. “What God has defined, man may not redefine.” (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Ben R. Rosario, and Hannah L. Torregoza)


Cautious Asians split as Obama backs gay marriage AFP Thursday, May 10, 2012

[File photos of the first same-sex couple (L) to obtain a marriage license at Manhattan and Sydney's Mardi Gras Parade (R) in March.]

HONG KONG - US President Barack Obama's ground-breaking support for same-sex marriage was met with applause from beleaguered gay rights campaigners in Asia on Thursday, but also with scorn from hardline opponents.

Rights and marriage for homosexuals barely figure on mainstream political agendas in the Asia-Pacific region, where traditional values dominate in many societies and sodomy remains illegal in some.

As in the United States, religious conservatives decried Obama, and most gay rights campaigners said in fact that the issue of wedlock was premature for now.


Australia PM unmoved by Obama on gay marriage Obama says same-sex couples should be able to marry Obama takes gamble on gay marriage.

The region's only country where there is a serious debate about legalising gay marriage is Australia, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was unswayed by Obama's change of heart and would continue to oppose it.

"I've made my mind up and my position on this is well known," she told reporters after Obama for the first time said that same-sex couples should be able to wed, igniting a fury of election-year debate in the United States.

Gillard said that when a bill calling for legalising gay marriage comes before the Australian parliament later this year, "I won't vote for it".

"This is a matter that people form their own views on, a deeply personal question, people will think about it, work their way through it."

Australia passed a legal amendment in 2004 explicitly defining marriage as between a man and woman, but activists believe pressure is mounting for Canberra to extend the right to same-sex couples.

Cheering supporters in Australia expressed hope that Obama's announcement would set a precedent that ripples across the Pacific.

Reverend Jeremy Greaves, whose liberal church in Darwin welcomes worshippers "regardless of sexual orientation", said: "I think for gay people within the church it'll come as a wonderful surprise and a great bit of news.

"I think for many gay people there's been a long struggle for recognition in the eyes of the church and the state, and I think this is another sign that times are changing for them," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

In the mainly Catholic Philippines, the only country in the world apart from the Vatican which still bans divorce, President Benigno Aquino's government said cautiously that any change to the law would have to come from lawmakers.

But even the Progressive Organisation of Gays in the Philippines said it was not pushing for same-sex marriage, while hoping that Obama's advocacy would prompt Aquino to address other issues of concern.

"We are not asking for wedding bells soon, we are merely requesting the government to face up to the reports" of alleged discrimination against gays in the Philippines, the group's spokesman Goya Candelario said.

Neither is the issue of marriage high on the agenda for gay men and lesbians in India, "because they know it will upset more people", said Ashok Row Kavi, head of Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based group dealing with male sexual health.

"Already there is so much opposition, if they start talking about same-sex marriage, it will increase further. We can only fight this much at a time," he said.

But Kavi also acclaimed Obama as "a terrific president".

"I wish the Indian political class and state learn their lessons from Obama. Our traditional society is uncomfortable about these issues - they don't know how it works."

But there was a vitriolic response from Vinod Bansal, spokesman for India's right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad group, who said gay marriage would "completely destroy our social fabric".

"It is Obama's view, it can't be endorsed by societies anywhere in the world. No religion permits same-sex marriages, neither is it beneficial in any way to society as a whole," he said.

"It will destroy the family system as well as the cultural and social values of different societies. What is morally wrong will never be accepted in India."

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Ibrahim Ali, a parliamentarian and president of right-wing Malay group Perkasa, said that Obama's announcement would have no effect on public opinion.

But young Malaysians should nonetheless be educated against this "unnatural" lifestyle, which is against Islam, he said.


Philippine President Benigno Aquino Suggests Gays Should Have the Right to Marry but Not Adopt:

Philippine President Benigno Aquino was asked about gay marriage in an interview yesterday while in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Aquino suggested he would support the rights of gays and lesbians to do what they want in that regard but fell short of endorsing it.

Aquino then suggested same-sex marriage would lead to adoption by gay couples, which he opposes.

Said Aquino: “Gay marriage—I don’t think I’m ready to tackle that fight right now. But the perspective... it is their choice. Normally I would say, you’re adults, you should be able to do whatever you want so long as it doesn’t harm anybody else....But if the next step is [that they] want the right to adopt, then I would be in a dilemma as to whether or not the child that will grow up in this world with a lot of problems would also have to, from the get-go, address that particular issue also at a very young age.”


For the Philippines that's a very enlightened attitude. The country is ridiculously Catholic. Which is the reason why this isn't happening any time soon

Posted by: Steve | Sep 23, 2011 8:17:11 AM

Yes, we are tremendously Catholic, and he has that thinking because his sister is very opinionated and very close to gay people. But don't hold your breath, our country is very very religious, even the bill about giving free contraceptives was opposed and brought down just because it was "immoral", while street children eat trash and become useless citizens. Meanwhile, priests are enjoying the comfort of their convents. (Which are all BEHIND of that bill being turned down)

Religion is a very hard thought, and a lot of people easily fall on the wrong side. A lot of our leaders and incompetent, only panders people with their "religious" high horse when in fact, they're the most immoral of all.

But nevertheless, I compare our country to USA. We don't deal with a lot of bullying issues American gays are dealing with. There will always be bullying, but no one here does to that extreme. And 90% of our schools are heavily Catholic. There are openly gay teachers and they are respected as well. We have a lot of celebrities who are also openly gay and respected.

As I would say, our thinking is progressing, NOT that far yet. But at least most of us are pretty much religious that we actually fear God and not use Him as a weapon like a lot of your politicians do.

But to add to Pres. Aquino's comments about gays adopting. He shouldn't be the one to talk. First of all, he is single and his sister has a retarded son (due to failed abortion allegedly) and has another one from a very destructive marriage. Surely, this should make him realize that straight couples are not an exception.

Posted by: shello | Sep 23, 2011 9:53:53 AM

And that 'issue' would be...? Having a stable home with 2 loving, committed parents? Oh the horror!

Posted by: Laura | Sep 23, 2011 10:04:04 AM

Let me tell you something about Filipinos I have encountered in the United States in various cities, and keep in mind I have been around a bit, particularly in my younger days. It was nothing- absolutely nothing for me to successfully cruise and bed Filipino men who had girlfriends, wives, and frequently children. And I have been to the Philippines, and it is very similar there. I'm not saying this in a pejoritive way, although it may be so taken, but as a very valid observation over several years: the Filipino people generally have a very shizophrenic policy about homosexuality, you might say in the same manner as American Republicans do: there is nothing particularly wrong with it as long as it is kept discreet privately, and at the same time public disapproval is expressed whenever possible. And so, to me, anyway, it is creaky, archaic, needs updating.

Posted by: ProfessorVP | Sep 23, 2011 7:08:23 PM

Shello, the word 'retarded' isn't used that way anymore; you could seriously offend a bunch of people. Just a heads-up from one Pinoy to another.

ProfessorVP, please don't generalize Filipinos based on the ones you cruised in the USA; it's such a narrow window to view an entire country's perspective from. It would be like making conclusions on American politics based on the Americans I hooked up with in the Philippines. wtf?

The Filipino perspective on homosexuality will always be split between Roman Catholic dogma and the inherently easy-going and neighbourly nature of the culture. It's a complex issue in a place where most people are just starting to understand that being gay and being transgendered are two different things. How can you talk about same-sex marriage with a guy who is completely uneducated about same-sex relationships in the first place? What's missing is education and I hope those 'respected' gay teachers, celebrities, and politicians start using their platforms to teach Filipinos about LGBT issues so that the country can begin to understand basic queer terms and perspectives. You just can't debate a topic until the terms are defined; it's a complete waste of time, which is exactly what an interview with President Aquino on queer issues is.

Posted by: JIN | Sep 23, 2011 7:56:26 PM

Jin, I wrote "... and it was very similar there (in the P.I.)" The easy availability of men, including those in hetero relationships. I stand by my observation that homosexuality there, as in the States, particularly among social conservatives, falls into the antiquated category of discreet acceptance, even approval, concurrent with public disdain. Which is not so different from the Catholic church, a topic I don't even want to get started on.

Posted by: ProfessorVP | Sep 24, 2011 12:25:02 AM

You make my completely reshape myself

Posted by: nike lunar eclipse | Sep 24, 2011 6:05:02 AM

I agree with Jin on this issue. The vast majority of Filipino people are uneducated about GLBT issues, most of them not even knowing that there is a difference between being homosexual and being transgendered. However, mostly you do not see the caustic attitutude against gays in the Philippines that you see in other nations because Filipinos are raised to be as accomodating of other people as possible. (In case you didn't know, the country was ruled by Spain for 300 years with much abuse, but the Filipino people just took it in stride until Americans bought the country.)

As for Filipinos being easy to bed, I haven't met any nationality that didn't have people easy to bed. You can make that generalisation about any nation or race or species, but it wouldn't serve any real purpose.

Posted by: Dev | Sep 24, 2011 6:01:50 PM

It's not a family if they don't have children..

Posted by: francis | Sep 29, 2011 11:50:54 PM

It is not a family if they dont have children? I am sorry Francis but you are wrong. I dont have children by my father but he is still family. Nor do I with my sister, aunts, cousins, uncle, etc but they are all family. What about two loving people who got married and found they are not capable of having children? Are they no longer a family? This comment makes absolutely no sense.

Posted by: Harry | Mar 18, 2012 2:35:14 PM

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