After years of hedging, President Obama has come out in support of same-sex marriage. How will his ‘evolution’ affect gay rights — and the 2012 race?
1. It makes the presidential campaign more polarizing
After Vice President Joe Biden expressed his comfort with same-sex marriage on Sunday, followed by North Carolina’s resounding approval Tuesday of a constitutional amendment banning it, the president no longer had the luxury of continuing his long period of evolution, says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly. Across the nation, support for gay marriage is “slowly growing” — a recent Gallup poll showed 50 percent of Americans want to legalize it — but remember, there’s an “underlying dynamic of ever-increasing partisan and generational polarization” on the issue. As a result, Obama’s clear stance will likely make the campaign even more divisive.
2. It hurts Obama in swing states
Obama’s “cynical dithering” was getting old, says Allahpundit at Hot Air, and he was running the risk of losing big campaign donations from liberals if he didn’t get off the fence. But that doesn’t mean his campaign problems related to gay marriage are over. “The bolder he is in endorsing gay marriage, the bigger his headache with a whole bunch of swing states that have voted to ban” it — states like Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. It seems like Obama knows that. “His strategy now is simply to get it over with ASAP and then let people forget about it over the next six months.”
3. It puts Mitt Romney in a tough spot
Obama’s gay-marriage endorsement will also make things uncomfortable for GOP rival Mitt Romney, says Maggie Haberman at Politico. Romney, who now opposes gay marriage after saying in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy that he supports full equality for gays and lesbians, does not want to “focus extensively” on this issue, which opens him up to the old flip-flopper charge. But he has to solidify his base, perhaps by repeating his call for creating a federal constitutional ban on gay marriage. And that could rattle the many independents who support gay marriage.