Obama Reaffirms Gay Rights Stance At Seattle Fundraiser
At the Obama fundraiser at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, the audience seemed primed for a reference to the president's newly declared support for gay marriage. The president not only said people shouldn't face obstacles because of "who they love." He noted that Washington state voters could face a specific ballot referendum on the issue in November. They would decide whether to repeal the law allowing same–sex marriage.
Obama: "And here in Washington you'll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly. You will have a chance to weigh in on this. We are a nation that treats people fairly."
Obama touched on other issues. He predicted a close election, filled with negative advertising. He acknowledged that Americans without jobs are getting frustrated, but said his presumed rival Republican Mitt Romney would take the country backward. Obama added his support for gay marriage to the initiatives he said would move the country forward.
Outside the Paramount, a small crowd seemed to be made up of people happy with Obama's declaration in support of gay marriage.
Saracristina Garcia and her partner of two years, Teri Bednarski, held a giant yellow thank–you card. They say they want to get married, and they're willing to wait until it's legal here. Garcia says Obama's statement could make that day come sooner.
Garcia: "Every time a leader or somebody prominent stands up and takes a position, any position, people pay attention. And if they haven't stopped to think about it before, they do then. So if nothing else, more people are thinking about it and that's good."
Those celebrating Obama's stance on gay marriage Thursday said it will likely be criticized by his opponents, but they don't see him losing votes over it.
Washington Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen said opinion polls indicate growing support for same–sex marriage across the country.
Owen: "It probably will solidify the far right but they're already against him. I think the people that are kind of in the middle are kind of tossed on it and I don't think it's going to be a deciding issue for them. And then the other side are very happy about it. So I think it's a positive thing for him, I don't see it as a negative at all."
Groups are currently gathering signatures for two potential ballot measures related to same–sex marriage. So the issue was already expected to be a high–profile one in Washington state this November. The timing of President Obama's visit just added a little more energy to the debate.
I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.
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