Obama and Gay Marriage: A Quick Look at the Cartoons

Tracy Wuster

See this post for reactions to the Supreme Court’s legalization of marriage.

The reaction to President Obama’s changed stance on gay marriage is obviously big news.  While I have argued before that proponents of gay marriage have a funnier argument than opponents, when it comes Obama’s decision the focus of the humor is less on the issue of gay marriage but on the politics of the situation.  In the midst of an election season, Obama’s changing (evolving or flip-flopping?  depends on who is drawing) view of gay marriage was bound to become a key instance in cartooning the major issues of the campaign.

We will be running some compilations of political cartoons as the campaign continues in order to examine how the visual representations of the candidates and the issues help shape the political conversation.  As M. Thomas Inge noted in his essay “Politics and the American Sense of Humor,” “the editorial or political cartoon has been a mainstay in the media of this country from its very founding.”

The first thing one notices in looking at cartoons over the past few days is the rapid change in the situation once Obama came out of the closet in support of gay marriage (to use some popular metaphors).  For instance, Mike Luckovich illustrated both the possible political “grenade” of the subject and one major theme of the fallout in two cartoons.

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, the next day

many more below…

Whereas the above cartoon pictures the gay community being thankful of Obama’s stance, the next cartoon by Daryl Cagle imagines a gay community not so supportive of the president’s politics.  What does the cake represent?

Several other cartoons used the imagery of the wedding cake to make some sort of visual point.  See Kevin Siers’s cartoon that connects the issue with the issue of the economy with talking cake toppers:  See also here  and here

What impact will this have on the election?  These two cartoons take different views, although they both contain a fair amount of ambivalence in their wording and symbolism.

A flip-flopper?  Or an evolution?  Or a revolution?  Depends on who you ask?

And maybe the metaphor is emerging from a cocoon, which this cartoon expresses with an interesting use of photography mixed with cartoon:

These cartoons help sketch out some of the major issues that will be at play in represented the candidates over the next five months–Obama’s balance of constituencies (Hollywood, the hispanic vote, certain southern states, etc.); the President’s decision making vs. that of Mitt (flip-floppers, evolving, pandering, etc.); the partisanship of interpretation; and–in this case, specifically–whether this issue will continue to matter or whether the economy will make this a brief, yet fascinating, moment of political representation.

Of course, the issue of gay marriage as a social question goes beyond electoral politics to issues of religion and civil rights.  I might contrast these two cartoons, which seem to take the issue and place it into interesting contexts.

Also, see here.

One final note:  many cartoons have focused on the role of Joe Biden on either paving the way or forcing the President’s hand in the decision.  While this subject is interesting, and Joe Biden makes for good humor, I believe it is less interesting as a subject in the long run.  But I do like this one:


For more, see:

Daryle Cagle’s Cartoon Web Log

Political Cartoon Tumbler

Cartoons from the New Yorker

Feel free to post a response with links to other cartoons of note.  I will admit that I am in support of the President’s evolving view, and my stance on the issue may lead me to think liberal views of the subject are funnier than those opposed.  If you have seen a good satirical cartoon opposed to gay marriage, please let me know.  You might even consider writing a post in response.  Contact me at the email address below.

All cartoons used under fair use educational use.  Artists retain all rights.  If you own the rights to one of these cartoons and would like me to remove, please contact me at: wustert@gmail.com

4 responses

  1. Found a few more:
    *The march of time?

    *Mitt Romney’s fears:

    *The new and related scandal of Romney as bully:

    *A wedding present?

    *I have to say that I don’t get the imagery of this one:

    *Or the point of this one:

    *It gets better:

    *The GOP has a new target, with a different use of wedding imagery:

    *Unemployment + marriage:

    *The Tea Party and the GOP to wed?

    *Coming out of the closet?

    Any more? Any comments?

  2. […] in light of our recent discussion of gay marriage (in cartoons here; in stand-up here), please enjoy a cartoon featuring […]

  3. […] years ago, we posted a collection of humorous responses to President Obama’s change to support gay marriage.  For a follow up, here are some of the humorous responses to the Supreme Court’s decision […]

  4. […] years ago, we posted a collection of humorous responses to President Obama’s change to support gay marriage.  For a follow up, here are some of the humorous responses to the Supreme Court’s decision […]

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