Wednesday, May 09, 2012

With gay abandon.....

My sense is President Obama had decided some time ago that he was no longer opposed to same-sex marriage.

I recall a press conference he conducted around Christmas 2010, just after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The President was asked by ABC's Jake Tapper if it's "intellectually consistent to say that gay and lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country, but they should not be able to marry the people they love?"

Even then the President said he struggled with the issue and that his long-time stance of opposing gay marriage was "evolving."

But he made it official Wednesday

Mr. Obama had been under intense pressure this week to lay out a clear stance on same-sex marriage after Vice President Joe Biden and other top advisers endorsed it. Mr. Obama said that after years of lengthy discussions with friends and family, including his wife and two young daughters, he now "personally" believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.

"I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally," Mr. Obama said in a television interview with ABC. "At a certain point I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

The timing is very interesting given that voters in North Carolina, a key swing state in the November election, overwhelmingly passed an amendment Tuesday which defined marriage as only between one woman and one man.

But overall, will this really harm Obama politically? Hard to say for sure. Despite the majority of Obama's largest constituency (the black community) being opposed to gay marriage, I don't see enough of them peeling away support to make much of an impact.

However, it will be interesting to see what happens in other key swing states like Florida and Ohio. In the sunshine state, which stance will Hispanics (the majority of whom are social conservatives) issue the larger rallying cry? Obama's gay marriage support or Mitt Romney's hard line position on immigration? Ohio, on the other hand, could be more problematic for the President. A recent poll showed only 35% of Ohioans surveyed favor same-sex marriage while 52% oppose it.

This fall, three states --- Minnesota, Maryland and Washington --- all have a marriage amendment of the ballot. While it is sure to draw a lot of social conservatives to polls, I find it difficult to believe that any of those states will flip to the "R" column as a result.

In the end, the President making such a declaration has little affect on me personally. Whether he's for or against same-sex marriage, Obama will never get my vote.


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