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President Obama's announcement in support of same-sex marriage marks important moment in U.S. history, U of M experts say

May 9, 2012

President Barack Obama today announced his support for gay marriage, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to endorse equal status for same-sex couples. Two University of Minnesota experts available to comment on the issue are:

Dale Carpenter, University of Minnesota Law School Professor

"This is a very significant moment in our nation's history for the president to back full marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples. It does mirror a shift in our society towards equality. In a sense, the president has been on the same journey as the rest of us on this issue. Most Americans stand in favor of same-sex marriage," Carpenter said.

Carpenter teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, the First Amendment, sexual orientation and the law, and commercial law. Carpenter is the author of the new and highly-acclaimed book "Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas," a landmark book on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated America's sodomy laws. Critics have called the book a fascinating account of the most important constitutional decision so far on the status of gays and lesbians in American society.

Edward Schiappa, professor, Department of Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts

"This is a remarkably bold and courageous move for Obama to take as it almost is guaranteed to cost him more votes than it will gain," Schiappa said. "In 2008, Obama barely won North Carolina (by less than one percent). Given the 19 percent point spread in yesterday's vote on Amendment One, the odds of him winning North Carolina again are slim." 

"In an election year, to see a candidate take such a principled position is stunning, not unlike Lyndon Johnson taking on Civil Rights and hence "giving away the South" in the 1960s, Schiappa said.

Schiappa is the department chair and teaches graduate courses on contemporary rhetorical theory, critical communication studies, rhetorical criticism and popular culture criticism.

To interview the experts, please contact Patty Mattern, University News Service, or (612) 624-2801.

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is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Law School, College of Liberal Arts

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