In 1996, then Senate hopeful Barack Obama wrote “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages” (Weinger). The timing of the statement could be directly related to then President Bill Clinton signing into law DOMA, or the Defense Against Marriage Act, initiated by Congress in a bold move that “prevented the federal government from recognizing any marriages between gay or lesbian couples for the purpose of federal laws or programs, even if those couples are considered legally married by their home state” (GLAAD).
However, two short years later, then Senator Obama in the midst of reelection was quoted as “’undecided’… in response to…‘Do you favor legalizing same-sex marriage?’” (Weinger). Coincidentally as President Obama’s view on legalizing same-sex marriage was devolving while running for public office, potentially for fear of isolating valued voters, former President Clinton’s had evolved since leaving office, as evidenced by his support for same-sex marriage in New York in 2009 saying, “ I changed my position” (Epstein). This changing of views is hardly unknown in the political arena, however its impact on the LGBT community would soon be shown to be detrimental.
In 2000, Proposition 22 (further referred to as Prop 22) was placed on the California ballot and passed overwhelmingly by a 61% margin, effectively changing the “California Family Code to formally define marriage…between a man and a woman” (BallotPedia). While same-sex marriages weren’t conducted in the state, Prop 22 did prevent the state from recognizing legal same-sex marriages conducted in other states, mirroring the government’s actions four years earlier in DOMA (Robinson).
- Robinson, B.A. “Proposition 22, passed in the year 2000, to ban same-sex marriage (SSM).” California Proposition 22 to ban same-sex marriage. Religious Tolerance, 12 Sept. 2007. Web. 10 May 2014. .
- “Schwarzenegger and California’s same-sex marriage battle.” The New American 29 Sept. 2008: 8. U.S. History in Context. Web. 10 May 2014.
- “States | Freedom to Marry.” States | Freedom to Marry. Freedom to Marry, 20 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 May 2014. .
- Weinger, Mackenzie. “Obama gay marriage quotes.” POLITICO. Politico, 9 May 2012. Web. 7 May 2014. .