President Obama Announces his Support for Funeral Equality - Critics Blast "Liberals' War on Death"WASHINGTON—Hot on the heels of his recent public support for same-sex marriage, President Obama addressed the nation again this morning to declare his backing for same-sex funerals. "In my life, I've been privileged to work with and spend time with many fine people, people worthy of the highest respect. Many of those people are now dead. Some of those people were gay," the President explained in a surprise press conference. "We can no longer pretend that a system that keeps many wonderful dead people from the joys and privileges of funerals is in any way just."
|President Obama addresses the nation at today's press conference.|
The news comes as a surprise to many, due to Obama's historically tepid support for funeral equality. Frequently evasive on the topic, Obama had previously implied he would back "civil burials" with many of the same legal protections as funerals, but would leave funerals to the states and churches to decide, a viewpoint shared by several members of his party. However, recent polls indicate that Americans are growing more and more in favor of funerals for all, leading some to question political motivations for this morning's sudden proclamation.
"It's not that I'm not grateful for the affirmation," said Donna Jenkens of Ann Arbor, MI, "but I do wonder about the timing, it being an election year and all. I first realized I was gay in 1958, when I was 14 years old. And I've been dead for 6 years now... where was the support then? Do I really need a ceremony to make my death any more real than a straight person's? It just, it's still a sore subject for me, clearly."
Notable gay rights activist George Takei was more favorable on his highly trafficked Twitter and Facebook accounts. "When we die, Brad and I will be sure to invite Mr. Obama to the funeral. If only we weren't each other's dates already!" mused the celebrated media personality. Speaking in his personal blog, That blog is so Takei, Mr. Takei spoke in more depth: "This has certainly been a long time coming, and there is much struggle ahead of course. But today, President Obama made a brave step for dead LGBT persons everywhere and I have learned in my life that we must celebrate each step, no matter how small or overdue. Mr. President, I thank you."
Not all reactions have been so positive, with many Republicans and pundits decrying the announcement as part of a "liberal war on death." Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted, "It's typical. It really is. The liberals, as usual, want to take every part of our culture and first pervert it, and then destroy it. Death, as any true American knows, is the cornerstone of good Christian civilization. And now the liberals, the gays, they want to take it from us and twist it into something filthy. Can you imagine what these gay funerals will be like? Are funeral homes going to have to start offering sequined urns and rainbow caskets?"
Rachel Maddow of MSNBC fired back, "Rush Limbaugh thinks same-sex funerals are going to somehow cheapen, quote, 'traditional' funerals. That they'll somehow ruin the sanctity of death for everyone. It's funny, Rush, I didn't see you protesting the Weekend at Bernie's movies."
Presidential challenger Mitt Romney is expected to issue a statement of his own this afternoon. Insider sources suggest that Mr. Romney will, in line with his party, come out against same-sex funerals. How either Mr. Romney's or Mr. Obama's public statements on the topic will resonate with the voters remains to be seen.