President Barack Obama made history earlier this year by discussing his support for same-sex marriage in his second Inauguration speech and today, he took that discussion one step further. While speaking publicly alongside Senegalese President Macky Sall in the African nation of Dakar, President Obama voiced his support for the Supreme Court rulings yesterday that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and invalidated California’s Proposition 8, thereby granting same-sex marriage rights to more American citizens. Obama made it clear in his remarks that he is in full support of a federal law legalizing same-sex marriage for the entire country … and Senegalese President Sall took offense to those comments. Homosexuality is still a punishable criminal offense in 38 African countries — including Senegal, a fact well-known by Obama … which is why he likely chose the opportunity to make his comments. Man, I love our president so much!
President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage as a “victory for American democracy” but clashed with his African host over gay rights in a sign of how far the movement has to go internationally. Obama said recognition of gay unions in the United States should cross state lines and that equal rights should be recognized universally. It was his first chance to expand on his thoughts about the ruling, which was issued Wednesday as he flew to Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality. Senegalese President Macky Sall rebuffed Obama’s call for Africans to give gays equal rights under the law. “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” Sall said, while insisting that the country is “very tolerant” and needs more time to digest the issue without pressure. “This does not mean we are homophobic.” Obama said gay rights didn’t come up in their private meeting at the presidential palace, a mansion that looks somewhat similar to the White House. But Obama said he wants to send a message to Africans that while he respects differing personal and religious views on the matter, it’s important to have nondiscrimination under the law. “People should be treated equally, and that’s a principle that I think applies universally,” he said. A report released Monday by Amnesty International says 38 African countries criminalize homosexuality. In four of those — Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia and Sudan — the punishment is death. These laws appear to have broad public support. A June 4 Pew Research Center survey found at least nine of 10 respondents in Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society … Sall sought to reassure Obama that gays are not persecuted in Senegal. But under Senegalese law, “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex” can be punished by up to five years in prison. Ndeye Kebe, president of a human rights organization that works with homosexuals called Women’s Smile, disputed Sall’s contention that gays are not discriminated against. “I know of around a dozen people who are in prison for homosexuality as we speak,” she said. “There wasn’t any real proof against them, but they were found guilty and they are in prison.”
As for Wednesday’s court ruling, Obama said he’s directing his administration to comb through every federal statute to quickly determine the implications of a decision that gave the nation’s legally married gay couples equal federal footing with all other married Americans. He said he wants to make sure that gay couples who deserve benefits under the ruling get them quickly. Obama said he personally believes that gay couples legally married in one state should retain their benefits if they move to another state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage. “I believe at the root of who we are as a people, as Americans, is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law,” he said. “We believe in basic fairness. And what I think yesterday’s ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody.”
This is so fantastic. President Obama has really stepped up and come out in support of marriage equality just like I knew that he would. Obama took a lot of flak from gay rights proponents during his first term in office because they felt he had abandoned them. I knew in my heart that he had not abandoned the gays and that he was waiting for the right moment to pledge his support for same-sex marriage. Because of his support, the Democratic Party added the push for same-sex marriage to their official party platform — a first for any political party in the US. By making his comments today in Africa regarding his desire to see same-sex marriage legal for the entire USA, he is making a bold statement not just to us citizens but to the world that he is fully committed to the advancement of marriage equality in our country. All I can say is, Well done, Mr. President. You are a leader that I can truly look up to and be proud of. I know, with your help, our country will one day soon enjoy marriage equality for all US citizens.