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Old 2012-05-09, 07:57 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
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Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


by FRANK JAMES and LIZ HALLORAN

President Obama was on a TV monitor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a key historic site of the gay-rights movement.
The 2012 presidential election was supposed to be about the economy, and even with President Obama's historic decision to make it known Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage, that is still likely to be true.

But the president's decision to announce in an ABC News interview that he personally backs gay marriage could mean that at least one social issue may take a more prominent role in the election-year spotlight.

The decision carries risks for the president. Anyone doubting that clearly need look no further than the overwhelming support Tuesday in North Carolina for a gay marriage ban to be added to the state's constitution. That amendment was approved 61 percent to 39 percent.

The president and his re-election team are clearly gambling, however, that his now-open support for same-sex marriage will attract more voters than it repels, and allow him to make the choice between himself and Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, even sharper.


Romney opposes gay marriage. Indeed, he has said he supports a federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

By taking a public stand on the contentious issue, Obama may do for Romney what the former Massachusetts governor has had trouble doing for himself — that is, energizing the Republican base, especially evangelical Christians, to rally behind the likely GOP nominee.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, made that very point in an interview:

"What everyone said was not going to be an issue in this election is now an issue. The president has made it an issue. This provides a very clear contrast between him and Mitt Romney. I think [Romney] may have been handed the key to support from social conservatives. Obama just turned up the heat and intensity."

Risking African-American Support

Another potential peril for Obama is that he alienates some of his heretofore most faithful supporters — African-Americans. Of all the groups represented in his political base, blacks are among the most churchgoing and hostile to the idea of gay marriage.

According to an October 2011 Pew Research poll, 62 percent of black Protestants oppose same-sex marriage.

But African-Americans have backed Obama to a lopsided degree — 96 percent support on Election Day 2008 with little if any drop-off since.

That could give the president and his re-election team less reason to be anxious about the effect of his support for gay marriage.

Like African-Americans, Latino voters also have a high church-attendance rate and many have similar antipathy to gay marriage. But their much stronger support for Obama over Romney could offset the fallout from the president's move.

The upside

While there are downsides to Obama's decision to go public with his support for gay marriage, there also was an upside.

Obama's campaign has sought ways to recapture the excitement of 2008, especially with younger voters, LGBT voters and liberals disappointed by the gap between his campaign promises of four years ago and what he's actually been able to accomplish.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that just about as many Americans favor gay marriage (50 percent) as oppose it (48 percent). But get inside those percentages, and you see some important demographic differences.

Younger voters especially are much more supportive of same-sex marriage than older voters. According to Gallup, voters aged 18 to 34 favor the legalization of gay marriage 66 percent to 33 percent.

Unfortunately, those younger voters tend to turn up to vote on Election Day at significantly lower rates than their older counterparts. Obama's support for same-sex marriage could help boost that young-voter turnout.

Independent voters favor gay marriage 57 percent to 40 percent, the same as college graduates. Moderates favor it by 20 percentage points — 58 percent to 38 percent.

His new public stance on gay marriage certainly could remind many of those voters of what they saw in Obama four years ago, motivating many of them to come out and vote for him instead of sitting it out in November.

Justin Ruben, executive director of the liberal group MoveOn.org said:

"This is a historic day. The president's support for marriage equality is great news that's likely to energize progressive activists across the country."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates legal equality for LGBT people, said in an interview:

"I'm thrilled, excited. It's a historic moment. I think that the president spoke from his heart, from a place of common humanity.

"His words ... give hope to LGBT Americans that, as he has always said, he sees them as a part of the American fabric.

"The leadership of the president, the words of the president, his coming out in support of an issue as important as marriage equality, and around which many are still struggling, still on a journey, will help those people."

Asked what difference he thought the president's decision would make on Election Day, Solmonese said:

"I think at the end of the day, this election will continue to be about the economy and about economic struggles we all face. As all contests like this, it will also be a question of character. What the president demonstrated today is that he is a person of deep conviction. We still have to win the fight for marriage equality."

One certainty is that Obama defused an issue that might have caused a ruckus at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Congressional Democrats and most of the party's delegates support same-sex marriage, and some politics watchers were suggesting there could be a high-profile effort to get a strong gay marriage plank in the party's platform. If the president had maintained his public opposition, he would have appeared to be out of step with his party on an important issue. That's never a good thing for a party leader facing what many think will be a close election.

Given that there is already some talk of punishing North Carolina for the constitutional ban on gay marriage, Obama didn't need the additional headache of being berated on his gay-marriage stance.

The Republican Response

Republicans were quick to try to convert what some saw as a virtue — the president's willingness to finally take a clear stand on one of the most controversial social issues of the day, what Solmonese called "character" — into a vice.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus characterized the president's move as a crass act of political opportunism, and Romney's position as principled:

"While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that."

It's true that Romney has long opposed gay marriage and civil unions. But when he ran for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in 1994 and later for governor, he tried to square the circle by leaving the impression that he was otherwise a strong defender of equal rights for LGBT Americans.

The same criticism that was made against Obama — that his stance of being for gay equality but against same-sex marriage — could just as easily be made against Romney, since it's hard to understand how one can be both for equal rights for gays and against gay marriage.

In any event, by removing that contradiction from his position on the issue, Obama now is free to attack Romney for his inconsistency.

Perkins, at the Family Research Council, said that, in his opinion, the advantage would go to Romney and social conservatives. He told us:

"Ten of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments. The only thing that stands between the votes these people made and same-sex marriage is the Defense of Marriage Act," he said. "They're going to have to vote for someone who wants to overturn the work these people did on marriage."

Perkins added that he thought the president's action could affect his grip on the African-American vote, noting that in Tuesday's vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina, majority black precincts voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment.

Perkins also pointed to the 2004 presidential election, when President George W. Bush won the swing state of Ohio with the help of voters who turned out to vote for a ballot initiative promoted by Republicans that would ban same-sex marriage.

The number of conservatives voting that year in Ohio increased from 2000, and Bush made inroads with African-American voters, Perkins said. He added that black voters supported the Ohio anti-gay marriage initiative by 61 percent to 39 percent.

That may be true but, to state the obvious, the first black president wasn't on the ballot, so Perkins' comparison may have something of an apples to oranges quality to it.
This is NPR.
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Old 2012-05-09, 08:17 PM   [Ignore Me] #2
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


So what happened again? It was declared that Obama takes a particular stance on something that people already elected him for (and that he didn't do), in order to try to reinforce votes for the next term, and half of Twitter rejoices?

DOMA wasn't repealed like 2008 Obama said he'd do (gitmo is still open too).
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Old 2012-05-09, 08:22 PM   [Ignore Me] #3
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


I'd wager he is hoping most people forgot about all that.
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Old 2012-05-09, 08:47 PM   [Ignore Me] #4
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Originally Posted by Neurotoxin View Post
It was declared that Obama takes a particular stance on something that people already elected him for (and that he didn't do), in order to try to reinforce votes for the next term, and half of Twitter rejoices?
Here read this it'll get you up to speed.
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Old 2012-05-10, 02:03 AM   [Ignore Me] #5
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Originally Posted by Sobekeus View Post
I'd wager he is hoping most people forgot about all that.
Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.
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Old 2012-05-10, 06:55 AM   [Ignore Me] #6
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage



Because the idea of a cartoon squirrel beating religious bigotry over the head is more hilarious than anything else I could post on this topic.

In other words, if this is a problem for you, you are an idiot.

Last edited by p0intman; 2012-05-10 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 2012-05-10, 03:29 PM   [Ignore Me] #7
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


"I didn't know he was gay."

Right, it's only cool to demonize homosexuals, or people who are 'different', to your fellow 'normal' people. That way homophobia finds a nice, cozy place to settle in and get comfortable.

I love the idea that 'I wouldn't have been homophobic to his face if I knew he was gay' somehow counts as an apology. I'd respect the guy more if he was more like the 'punch your gay kids' preacher. It's like, come on, man. Sack up and own your own bigotry. Don't go being a wuss about it.
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Old 2012-05-11, 03:40 AM   [Ignore Me] #8
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


No fan of Romney but I would imagine that it is a bit long ago and things may have changed somewhat since. The question is, would he still do that?

I personally always find it more fun when evangelist church leaders who hate gay people turn out to be gay after being caught in bed with another man by the misses.

Even better, it was Ted Haggard (you can find plenty of clips of him apologizing and making up excuses for that, I'd prefer to share with you his incredible interview by Richard Dawkins, which is indeed, incredible):

Last edited by Figment; 2012-05-11 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 2012-05-11, 07:20 AM   [Ignore Me] #9
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


I have often found that the person you were in high school goes a long way to inform the person you are today.

Mitt smiles a lot nowadays because he wants to be elected, but there will always be a part of him that thought it was a good idea to assault someone for looking different.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2012-05-11, 08:02 AM   [Ignore Me] #10
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Meh.
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Old 2012-05-11, 08:26 AM   [Ignore Me] #11
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Originally Posted by Malorn View Post
With his second sentence Obama said it is still a state decision. So both candidates believe that gay marriage is a state decision. All Obama did is pander to his base, but it may well backfire as most states have voted in laws banning gay marriage. Only 7 allow it. Swing state North Carolina recently voted against it. If Obama isnt clear about the state decision bit it could cost him voters if they believe he will try to reverse their decision. But reaffirming the state decision would only cause the lgbt community to be upset.

Hes just doing it to raise money and take another jab at romney. Its unlikely to have a positive effect on election day. But by then he will have already used it to get money which can be turned into votes.
Mark your calendars folks because I'm going to agree with Malorn.

You're absolutely right. The timing of this announcement is very much a near-meaningless ploy to galvanize the base for the voting season. I won't say it's not clever, or risky, but I will say its artfully stated so that it removes from him all obligation to actually do anything.

And as a person who is very passionate about the civil liberties of homosexuals, I have to say that it feels very icky to have such a sensitive and important topic used as a prop by someone who clearly isn't prepared to go to bat on the issue.

Democrat or Republican, they are all of them cowards in the end.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2012-05-11, 09:37 AM   [Ignore Me] #12
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Meh.
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Old 2012-05-11, 09:38 AM   [Ignore Me] #13
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


I think they are just glad that a president has actually come out in support for them.
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Old 2012-05-11, 09:39 AM   [Ignore Me] #14
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Originally Posted by Malorn View Post
I don't much care about this issue but looking into what he's said in the past, I'm a bit surprised that the LGBT community hasn't gotten upset with him over his inconsistency.

http://politi.co/ILbRf3

(article has citations for all the Obama quotes over the years)

Or maybe they have gotten upset with him, which is why he has taken the time to express how he personally feels (while supporting a state's right to ban it).
It may be less that that aren't getting upset with him, and more that the alternatives are always so much worse. Having someone who goes "Well, I dunno. Yes? Maybe yes. Or no? Uhm... can we talk about it more...?" is preferable to someone who's more like, "No, you're subhuman and you don't deserve the same rights as the rest of us normal people."
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Old 2012-05-11, 09:48 AM   [Ignore Me] #15
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Re: Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage


Originally Posted by Vash02 View Post
I think they are just glad that a president has actually come out in support for them.
Regardless who does it, this does set an example and can lead to attitude change. Which basically is the point.


"If the president isn't against, why would you be?"

Compare it to Bush Sr.'s administration and before. Already quite a few large social changes since then.
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