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On gay marriage, Obama is leading the world and catching up at the same time

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An interesting piece from AP on how Obama's embrace of gay marriage may have larger implications for gay couples around the world.

Obama's announcement Wednesday that he supports gay marriage boosted the hopes of gay rights groups around the world that other leaders will follow his example. Vatican and other religious officials who oppose gay marriage stayed largely silent, while others denounced the president's position.

Gay groups lauded what they said was the tremendous precedent set by Obama and hoped for changes in their own countries. In Latin America, for example, governments in Argentina and Mexico City have passed laws permitting gay marriage, but most do not.

"This is incredibly important, it's excellent news. The United States is a global leader on everything, and that includes gay rights," said Julio Moreira, president of the Rio de Janeiro-based Arco-Iris gay rights group. "This will force other nations like Brazil to move forward with more progressive policies."
As AP notes, other countries, like Canada and Spain, already have moved forward. Still, I hadn't really thought of the import of Obama's words in terms of influencing foreign public opinion and/or foreign leaders. Or simply permitting activists to put more pressure on their leaders. I remain convinced that what happened yesterday is a big deal.

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