Both presidential candidates fall short of offering LGBT equality

We can be doctors, lawyers, professors, writers and politicians. Thankfully, we can be United States citizens, who can vote, attend school with everybody else and sit in the front of the bus. You know, we can be Olympians and television news anchors for CNN, but there’s still something we can’t do.

Nearly four months ago, amid the sleepless nights during which University students relentlessly crammed for semester finals, President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC, “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 decision to extend his support was something he said had been evolving over years and then almost on a whim decided to tell the country his stance.

Gov. Mitt Romney advocates for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, opting to define the institution as between one man and one woman. To be clear, he has said he is tolerant of gays and lesbians, just not of them getting hitched. Gays will probably corrupt the sanctity of marriage in the same way legitimate rape renders pregnancy impossible. Both are based on cold, hard facts.

Still, I’m skeptical of Obama’s unprecedented proclamation of support for equal marriage rights and a little perturbed that he waited until a few short months before Election Day to announce it. The move is appreciated, albeit one more likely motivated by politics than genuine support.

While I would like to believe his newfound support for marriage equality would swing the election in his favor, securing the right for every fellow countryman to tie the knot to his dearly beloved, the reality is it probably will have little effect.

A Gallup poll released in May, shortly after Obama’s announcement, found that 69 percent of Democrats supported gay marriage compared with a dismal 28 percent of Republicans. Nationally, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans do support gay marriage.

The major issue with those statistics is that as voters age, they are less likely to support gay marriage across party lines. Because those in support of it — 18- to 29-year-olds — historically opt for something like watching reruns of some TV show for the 12th time instead of venturing out to some dull polling station, the effect of Obama’s belief is mitigated.

However, his support won’t hurt his chances necessarily in defending his incumbency, but we won’t see some miraculous shift in the electorate because of it. For most American adults, the prospect of legalizing same-sex marriage will enormously, undeniably and to an extensive degree, make no difference in their votes.

Estimates of between 1 in 16 or 1 in 5 top fundraisers for Obama’s campaign are openly gay. The constituency here has muscle, no doubt — even the treasurer for the Democratic National Convention is out. Despite the party being supported by so many openly gay people, legalizing same-sex marriage still feels like a nonissue.

Even more disheartening is that the swing states in which Obama so adamantly campaigns nowadays do not support same-sex marriage. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado all have prohibitions on the books. These five, of the nine swing states, pack a heavy punch in terms of electoral votes. Only two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, allow same-sex marriage legally. Because so many of these up-in-the-air states don’t support same-sex marriage, Democrats are likely to downplay its importance over the next two months.

Equality in the LGBT community is the next civil rights movement facing this country, and for those in that community, this is one of the most important social issues taunting this country’s progress.

This isn’t a small issue anymore — the Chick-fil-A protests in July can speak to that. Romney certainly doesn’t have our backs, if the lack of attention to gay and lesbian rights at Republican National Convention last week was any kind of indicator.

But I’m still not ecstatic about Obama either — a president whose not-so-profound stances on anything, except that we’re doing better and he just needs more time to fix everything — doesn’t seem like the rainbow-clad knight on a trusty steed the LGBT community or supporters of same-sex marriage require just yet.

Ryan is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]