Reaction and analysis to President Obama coming out for gay marriage

By on May 9, 2012

President Obama told ABC News that he supports the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Said Obama: “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, 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 president stressed that this is his personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.

Reactions:

David Brody: “Obama has given his liberal base a solid 6 month-energy drink that should last them through the General Election. The question for Romney is what can he say or do with the evangelical/Tea Party base to fire them up for the General? It’s an open question. One thing’s for sure, Obama’s support of same-sex marriage just made the electoral map a little dicier.”

Chris Cillizza points out that the announcement could boost Obama’s fundraising:

One in six Obama’s 2012 campaign bundlers are gay, according to research conducted by the Post’s Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam. Couple that fact with the news earlier this week that George Soros, one of the most prominent Democratic major donors in the country, wasdirecting his contributions to grassroots groups rather than the super PAC expected to fund TV ads supporting Obama and it’s clear that the president badly needs a heavy investment from Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And those two communities are heavily in favor of gay marriage. (Don’t forget:Obama is headed to Hollywood tonight for a fundraiser at the house of actor George Clooney.)

James Fallows cherishes Obama’s embrace of equality:

I am aware that there are various slice-and-dice cynical assessments one could make of the president’s comments today. (Why did he take so long? Why did he back off the support he’d expressed back in the 1990s? Might this be useful as a wedge issue in the election? It doesn’t have any immediate impact since it’s still up to the states. And so on.) But the fact remains that five minutes before his announcement, no one could be sure that he would take the step of saying that his personal views had changed. He did — and it was important, brave, potentially risky, and right. That should be noted. It’s a significant day.

Dana Goldstein doubts that the president truly believes in federalism when it comes to marriage equality:

It would have been a more historic moment if Obama hadn’t also reaffirmed states’ rights to decide the matter on their own. Here’s hoping he can “evolve” on that, too — since I don’t believe he truly believes it, just like he was never really “personally” against gay marriage.

Mark Halperin: “If Republicans try to make a big deal about this, the President’s advisers believe it will distract from the economy fight and hurt the GOP with younger voters. As David Axelrod made clear the other day, the Obamans will fight back on this issue as needed. Romney now has more questions to answer than the President does on these matters, such as about same-sex benefits. There will be micro-targeting to culturally conservative voters in swing states to be sure, but don’t expect this decision to become a major campaign issue.”

Howard Kurtz: “At the risk of resorting to hyperbole, this is a political earthquake that shakes the landscape by putting a divisive culture-war issue front and center. The betting had been that while Biden and others would signal support on a wink-wink basis, Obama would play it safe and take no position until after the election. This was no slip of the tongue; Obama intended to make news when his staff hastily arranged the interview.”

Jennifer Rubin’s take:

I think this is unlikely to change a single vote. The vast number of Americans opposed to gay marriage are either committed conservatives who will never vote for him or African American Democrats who will vote for him no matter what. The only implication may be that Christian conservatives’ enthusiasm for Romney increases and his base-turnout problems become a non-concern.

Dan Savage is unsatisfied:

So Barack Obama is for marriage equality. Personally. Because he knows some monogamous same-sex couples who are raising children. (Non-monogamous couples can’t get legally married, of course, unless they’re straight.) But the president also supports the “concept” of states—states like, say, North Carolina, which yesterday banned any recognition of same-sex relationships in reality, not in concept—”decding the issue on their own.” So the president supports same-sex marriage but he believes that states should be able to ban same-sex marriages.

Andrew Sullivan believes Barack Obama let go of fear. “He is clearly prepared to let the political chips fall as they may. That’s why we elected him. That’s the change we believed in. The contrast with a candidate who wants to abolish all rights for gay couples by amending the federal constitution, and who has donated to organizations that seek to “cure” gays, who bowed to pressure from bigots who demanded the head of a spokesman on foreign policy solely because he was gay: how much starker can it get?”

Dave Weigel’s read on the political calculation:

You could look at this and think that the campaign’s roll-out — it started on Saturday! — was undone by Joe Biden’s loose talk. An alternate theory: The old, phony Obama position, useful as long as gay marriage was unpopular, had stopped being useful.

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