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Abortion, gay rights among topics reviewed in upcoming election

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“With liberty and justice for all” are the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance, and they are also words that bring up each candidate’s values on issues about gay rights, abortions and diversity during this year’s presidential election.  
The generational gap between voters sets the stage for which issues are of importance in this year’s presidential election.  
Increased attention towards issues of equality and values during the campaign have brought forth the opportunity for President Barack Obama and Republican Nominee Mitt Romney to voice their opinions on the importance of these issues now more than ever.
Results from a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll reveal that seniors 65 and over are more concerned about the way government works in Washington with an emphasis on attempts to reduce corruption.  Romney has a greater following within the seniors group.  
However, millennials, the group of young adults who are between 18 and 30, continue to support Obama as they did in the 2008 election.   The Millennial Generation has more interest in improving public schools and making college education affordable, according to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.  
Millennials also have an increased interest in the creation of more jobs as they are searching for work in a tough economic market.  
The millennial age group supports Obama since many claim that his story and his diverse background appeals to the generation that prides themselves on diversity.
Paul Wilson, history department head, said the younger generation is more openly tolerant of issues than seniors.  He said the millennial generation “is more likely to be supportive of diversity, however they define it.”  
LGBT Progress
Six in 10 millennials said the next president should consider making gay marriages legal nationwide, while fewer than one in four seniors agree that gay marriages should be legalized.   
During his term in office, President Obama has made strides of progress for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community.  In May, Newsweek called Obama the “first gay president” after his public support for same-sex marriages.  
Although Obama supports same-sex marriage, he has left the ultimate decision to individual states.  
The Obama-Biden Campaign reports the President signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which discriminated against gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly in the military.  The bill that put an end to discrimination in the military took effect in September 2011.  
In February 2011, Obama declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.  The act that was put into place during the Clinton Administration denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.  
To counteract polices that discriminate against same-sex marriages, Obama supported the Respect for Marriage Act in July 2011, which states the federal government should not deny rights to gay and lesbian couples that are given to straight couples.  
The differences in opinion of each generation also display the need for change in some American policies.  While Obama has made changes for the LBGT community, Romney continues to suppress their rights for an equal opportunity with marriage.  
Romney expressed his favorable opinion of traditional marriage, and his campaign said, “As president, Mitt will not only appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton – but he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Abortion Stances
According to the National Abortion Federation, there are 1.3 million unplanned pregnancies that end in abortion each year.  
The Obama-Biden campaign states the President is committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose for or against abortion and has opposed attempts at cutting funding to Planned Parenthood operations.   
The Obama campaign also said, “Both Romney and Ryan backed proposals to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.”  However, fact-checkers reported in Time Magazine that the Obama Campaign’s statements are not true since Romney said he would not prohibit cases of abortion when the mother’s health is endangered from rape or incest.   
While many republicans have supported an absolute abortion ban, fact-checkers said Romney has never embraced one.  
Romney’s campaign mentions his interest to overturn Roe v. Wade to empower individual states with the ability to make decisions about abortion laws without dictation from the judicial level of government.
According to his campaign, Romney supports the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use government funds to pay for abortions.   Funding for Planned Parenthood would also cease under Romney’s administration.   
Social v. Political Issues
The candidates for president have differing opinions, while voters also have different opinions about issues they consider important.  
According to a study by Pew Research Center, there is a rising age gap in economic well being between the younger and older generations.  
In a household with inhabitants 65 years and older, there has been a 42 percent increase in wealth from 1984 to 2009.  For households headed by 35 years old or younger, there has been a 68 percent decrease in wealth from 1984 to 2009.  
 “There is an enormous gap in wealth, and the younger generation is concerned with social and cultural issues, and they are not paying attention to economic issues,” Wilson said.
He said there is a redistribution of wealth from the younger generations to the older generations since money to pay for social security comes from the younger generation who continues to suffer with debt, such as student loans.  
“A lot of young people are involved in social and cultural issues and not economic issues,” Wilson said.  “It’s perfectly fine to support gay marriage but how is that going to help you pay off student loans.”  
While many voters have differing opinions about which issues are of importance in the election, the candidates also have differing views about their policies.  
President Obama told Romney in the last debate this past Monday, “When it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s.”
After Monday’s final debate, President Obama and Governor Romney will likely not meet again until after the Nov. 6 election.

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
Decision Time