Obama Opposes Minn. Marriage Amendment, Courts Gay Activists in Fla.

Obama voiced his opposition to Minnesota's marriage amendment on Monday and took time to drop in on a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Tuesday evening aimed at South Florida's gay community.

Similar to the one being proposed in North Carolina this year, the Minnesota marriage amendment would define marriage in the state's constitution as between a man and a woman. In an uncommon move for a sitting president, Obama has come out and opposed both states' efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage.

"Frankly, I think it's unfortunate that the president of the United States is getting involved in a state issue," Minnesota Congressman Steve Gottwalt (R- St. Cloud) told the Star Tribune. "But that's certainly his right."

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Gottwalt said he takes issue with the supporters of gay marriage calling the amendment "anti-gay," instead, saying the amendment simply reinforces what marriage is supposed to be – between one man and one woman.

"The idea that this is an attack on anyone is just incorrect," he said. "What this is really about is marriage, and Minnesotans ought to have the right to say what that means to them."

Nonetheless, the Obama for America Minnesota Communications director, Kristin Sosanie, says the president is merely standing up for those who are being discriminated against. The Obama campaign's statement on the Minnesota amendment was identical to the one released last month in North Carolina.

"While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples," read the release.

Despite Obama's reluctance to publicly embrace same-sex marriage, some say it's only a matter of a few months before President Obama makes some type of formal statement on the issue. More importantly, they say his past actions are more important that his verbal blessing.

"As far as I can see this is simply a matter of politics," said Dr. Michael Brown, the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America. "President Obama has made his views on this issue clear in a number of ways."

"He has directed his administration to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, he pushed for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in the military, and he has opposed efforts in different states to pass amendments that uphold male-female marriage as being 'discriminatory.' And in his speech to the Human Rights Campaign last October, he envisioned a transformed society where 'a father realizes he doesn't just love his daughter, but also her wife.'"

Last night while he was making the rounds at three fundraisers in South Florida, Obama surprised the guests at a $2,500 a head DNC fundraiser that targeted the area's gay activists.

At a similar event last fall, an irritated guest shouted questions and comments at the president in an obvious demonstration of frustration with the president for publicly advocating his unconditional support for same-sex marriage.

Adding fuel to the fire, the Obama administration and DNC have resisted efforts to include gay marriage language in the party's platform for fear it will alienate independent and moderate voters in what is expected to be a close general election in November.

However, when asked on Monday at a White House press briefing about a homosexual couple who attended the annual Easter egg roll so they could lobby the president on signing an executive order on federal job discrimination, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Obama's public position on gay marriage.

"Well again, I don't have anything for on a specific executive order," said Carney. "What I can tell you is I think the president's position on LGBT issues is – or record, rather, is well known and one that he and we are very proud of."

Brown reiterated a reason for Obama's hesitancy.
"I strongly believe the only reason that he hasn't come out even more clearly and said that he supports same-sex marriage is because he doesn't want to alienate some of his voters, in particular black voters who do not support the redefinition of marriage," added Brown.

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