Blognik Beat

Obama on Gay Marriage Leads to Polarizing Debate

By Alan Meskin

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Barack Obama

When President Obama made public his support for gay marriage on May 9th on an ABC interview, and re-affirmed his belief at an LGBT Leadership Council fundraiser, he garnered a range of reactions from fervent support to avid disapproval. Apparently the president’s announcement has generally not affected people’s opinions of Obama, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center, but there was a major discrepancy between the older and younger adults surveyed: 42 percent of people over 65 viewed the president less favorably while 62 percent of respondents between 18 and 29 years old did not.

In the greater American Jewish community, the resonating feedback reflects the general liberal viewpoint that has been prominent in the demographic. That is, most American Jews would probably be in support of Obama’s statement since we have always been in support of the ostracized and discriminated against as we were ourselves not too long ago. Yet, within the demographic is a substantial Russian Jewish population that greatly disagrees with homosexuality, but especially in the right of marriage for homosexual couples.

On my own college campus of Rutgers University, the feelings of jubilation and optimism for a freer and more just society were somewhat conspicuous, as it lies in the fairly liberal state of New Jersey. The local gay community is quite active but did not respond with any events like parades, fundraisers or guest lecturers as one would expect after such a significant change in governmental viewpoint. Yet, there may be a silent response because of the controversy surrounding a current case that has impacted the Rutgers populace: Dharun Ravi, a Rutgers student, has been sentenced to prison time for invasion of privacy for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, who later committed suicide. Regardless, the number of gay and lesbian groups on campus and the openness with which the community interacts with the wider student body proves that this case was neither detrimental nor typical of the average student.

Growing up in a socially liberal family, I have come to believe that every person deserves equal rights and opportunities, which were the main reasons my parents immigrated to the United States. Jews faced the same type of discrimination and bias from the government and the general populace in the Soviet Union that affected women, African-Americans and homosexuals in this country. Those freedoms should extend to every person, regardless of their religion, color, race or ethnicity.

However, even within my own family, my grandparents do not support the notion of equal right to marriage for gays and this is highly reflective of not only their community but also the environment in which they lived in for most of their lives. My grandmother believes that gay couples can live as they want but marriage is a commitment that could strain family relations and be difficult for raising children. My other set of grandparents claim that it is wrong for homosexuals to have such rights because it is not the standard model for marriage.

If the process does not become politicized, and frankly it already has, gay rights for marriage should become as normal as civil rights and women’s rights, but people must be wary of any special role the topic plays in the upcoming presidential election. Either way, equality and liberty have been essential virtues in our country’s history and progress: we must guarantee those rights to all.

Alan Meskin, 19, is from Sparta, N.J., and is a freshman at Rutgers University, where he is pursuing a double major in biology and psychology.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Russian Jews, Gay Rights, Gay Marriage, Dharun Ravi, Barack Obama, Alan Meskin

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.