2012 Election | Barack Obama | Gay Marriage | News

What Impact Will Obama's Marriage Announcement Have In November?


Now that President Obama has come out in support of same-sex marriage, many people and pundits, including the New York Times, are wondering whether the decision was "inevitable." Did he have a choice, or was he pushed by a changing culture and more forceful advocates, including his own vice president? And, more importantly, what impact will this news will have on the forthcoming November election?

In some ways, Mr. Obama is late to the party. Mr. Biden was just the latest prominent Democrat to announce his support, and many now say that it seems unthinkable that by 2016 any serious Democratic presidential candidate would oppose gay marriage.

In addition to the risks, [there are] clear potential upsides for Mr. Obama. His announcement, while symbolic rather than carrying the force of law, could energize big parts of his base, particularly younger voters, and reassure liberal Democrats who had been disappointed with Mr. Obama on this issue. It will no doubt help with gay people, already among his biggest donors.

Tell me, reader, does Obama's marriage support make you more enthusiastic about the election, or is this symbolic announcement simply a bit of good news that will be swallowed by a sea of economic and social woes?

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  1. After the loss in NC on Tuesday, this announcement by President Obama served as the silver lining to what has been an incredibly dark cloud on the horizon. It is more than a token to me and to my family. Having the president publicly endorse our rights to equal marriage makes me hopeful for this country.

    Now if we could just get CNN, MSNBC, and NPR (among other news outlets) to stop giving face time to hate groups like Family Research Council. By including their voices on the national stage, these news organizations perpetuate the myth that there should be a debate about civil rights. Do they invite neo-Nazis when they discuss Jewish issues? Do they invite members of the KKK when they discuss Black issues? Of course they don't ... those are fringe elements and hate groups, just like Peter LaBarbera's and Tony Perkins' organizations. Let's stand up to the corporate parents of these news organizations and demand respect and dignity.

    Posted by: Richard Skolasky | May 10, 2012 8:10:00 AM

  2. Simply a bit of good news that will be swallowed by a sea of economic and social woes.
    He is not proposing overturning of DOMA, still is leaving the decision of marriage rights to the individual states and is not going to propose legislation to recognize on a federal level the existing state marriages or civil unions.
    He was only speaking for himself personally and not as President or for the Executive Branch.
    I am glad he has "evolved" to this stance personally but it is just symbolic.

    Posted by: Wayne Ancell | May 10, 2012 8:11:56 AM

  3. Yes,No and ditto to Richard.

    Posted by: The Realist | May 10, 2012 8:11:59 AM

  4. Finally, the President is acting like what he already knows. Teavangelicals are not ever going to vote for him or respect him. So be polite, but say what you feel.

    Posted by: Gus | May 10, 2012 8:14:02 AM

  5. How can people say that Omama was late to the party. Fact is that he is the first sitting president who ever has supported marriage equality.

    I think it is far larger and more risk for him now that he has come out in support than it is upside for him. I think he can lose to be re-elect as President.

    I think most people knew where he stood on this issue beforehand. I hope I'm wrong, and that those who support him will go to extra lengths to get him re-elected.

    It will be terrible for the U.S. if the Republicans win and Mitt Roney is President. It will take the U.S. way, way back in time when it comes to gay rights. We will see that they will take away so many gay right they can if they get the opportunity.

    Anyway, I think it was brave and I am proud that Obama took this option public

    Posted by: NN | May 10, 2012 8:21:29 AM

  6. A few points:
    -At least now we have one candidate who is being truthful about his views on the issue.
    -The clearer the choice, the more crucial this election becomes.(But be sure to have your passport in order - Vancouver is a nice place to live!).
    -I would appreciate the voters and Congress evolving a bit more quickly so that my partner of 33 years and I can actually tie the knot legally in CA while we both can still walk down the aisle without walkers.
    And thanks for 'listening'...

    Posted by: DrMikey | May 10, 2012 8:23:36 AM

  7. Obama's support matters...and whether he is late to the party as you put it at least he has shown up. No other sitting President has come out to support same sex marriage so it has to count for something.

    Posted by: BosGuy | May 10, 2012 8:36:33 AM

  8. The question you asked is almost meaningless, "Does this make you more enthusiastic....?" The readers of this website are completely unrepresentative of all voters. The more important question is "Does this make you think that this will help, hurt or make no difference to Obama?" That's what people really need to think about, more than their own personal enthusiasm.

    While professional pundits and us regular people can disagree on how Obama's announcement affects his re-election chances, I tend to think that (unfortunately) it hurts him. Yes, it may get him more voters, and more enthusiastic voters, in places like the Northeast (NY, MA, CT, etc...) and the West (CA, OR, WA), he's already going to carry those states. The question is how it's going to affect him in the toss-up states like VA, FL, OH, PA, IOWA, NM, and -- yes -- NC. Although NC is still a Southern state, it's OVERWHELMING vote against same-sex marriage is very telling for places like VA and FL. And for those people who don't know it, southern OH and rural PA are not very different from NC. The vote to remove the Supreme Court Justices in Iowa gives us some idea about Midwest states. And the facts are that the large, religious Latino population is generally not pro-same sex marriage, and in fact NM has tried unsuccessfully a number of times to enact civil unions. There are other similar examples, but the point is that although Towleroad readers may feel more enthusiastic themselves, the reality is that this is not going to help Obama in most of the toss-up states (one opposite example may be Colorado, but it's truly an exception).

    Also, for those of you who really doubt this analysis, how many people do you really know and talk to about politics in these toss-up states? So many readers tend to think that voters are either pro or anti Obama, and this issue won't make a difference. But the truth is that there are many voters who are very conflicted about Obama for many reasons, like the economy, immigration, health care, etc. They aren't anti-Obama, and they sure aren't pro-Obama, but their votes are up for grabs. For most of these voters in these toss-ups states, same-sex marriage is one more issue that makes them uncomfortable in this election.

    If there is any silver lining, it may be that the economy is likely to shadow this issue for many voters. In other words, if the economy really improves, then many voters in toss-up states who disagree with Obama about marriage equality may -- or may not -- overlook his views on it. But if the economy remains anemic, same-sex marriage provides even more fuel for votes against Obama.

    Many of you may disagree with this analysis, and I respect your opinion. But there is so much at risk in this election (including likely appointments to the Supreme Court -- to be made by President Obama or by President Romney). I am concerned that Obama has, overall, hurt himself politically in this election.

    Posted by: MiddleoftheRoader | May 10, 2012 8:37:12 AM

  9. More enthusiastic. It means something to me, my husband, and more importantly, our son, to have the president say, "I think same-sex marriage should be legal."
    We're lucky to live in NY where we are legally married, and I realize it doesn't change anything for those in NC who have just suffered a tremendous blow, but it is a step in the right direction.

    Posted by: David | May 10, 2012 8:42:51 AM

  10. In for a penny, in for a pound. I can see the merits of the arguments for and against Obama taking a position on gay marriage before the election. However, now that he has done so, I think there is little political costs to him signing the anti-discrimination executive order. That announcement may be coming.

    Posted by: Jacoby | May 10, 2012 8:43:57 AM

  11. I think it helps him, even with straight middle of the road voters. IMO Americans thrive on supporting a lofty principle, even while they do the hard work of digging out of a recession or coming to grips with the environment. (OK, we are half-assed about these things, but not completely.) So the idea of supporting the civil and human rights of American families will quicken more good hearts than it will harden bad ones.

    Generally, I believe that public opinion will turn in favor of candidates who protect rights and against those who seek to obstruct and eliminate rights. The pendulum is moving that way.

    Posted by: Demian | May 10, 2012 8:47:44 AM

  12. This lifelong liberal democrat and strong Obama supporter believes that it will seriousl harm the democrats in november. Marriage equality lost in every state where the people were allowed to vote on the issue. 32-0!!! I think that for this and other reasons the republicans will have the presidency, senate and house after the november election. I think that the left has pushed the dems too far left and WE will lose in november.

    Posted by: andrew | May 10, 2012 8:59:50 AM

  13. Risky, in that any "fence sitters" may view this as too radical and either vote for Mittens or not vote at all. As well, he had 78 percent of the hispanic vote, a group that is traditionally catholic and conservative when it comes to views about gays. Will he still have that percentage? Time will tell.

    I applaud his coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, but (and I know this isn't a popular stance) wish he'd have waited until after the election.

    Posted by: johnny | May 10, 2012 9:00:04 AM

  14. I think people respect politicians who stand on principal. Look at the number of idiot voters who supported Bush even though they disagreed with his policies.

    Posted by: Shawnthesheep | May 10, 2012 9:02:47 AM

  15. Belonsky, hard questions early in the morning? I agree with everyone above. More coffee please.

    Posted by: UFFDA | May 10, 2012 9:04:49 AM

  16. It's huge by any standard. First black pres first pres to endorse same-sex marriage. And what are the haters going to do? Vote against him twice?

    Posted by: Charley | May 10, 2012 9:15:03 AM

  17. Yes, it could hurt him, but given the mounting pressure and near-daily story on both liberal and conservative media outlets regarding his fence-sitting position, it was really a 'now or never' type decision (never meaning 'not before the election').

    We're lucky in that many of the rabid, anti-gay types have very short attention spans. In six months, Karl Rove will be trying to spin the heck out of this, but if the economy improves, like many economists believe (7.5% unemployment, rising GDP, strong Q2 and Q3 data, manufacturing up, the dollar up - ITR predicts), it will be a futile effort.

    The rural turnout needs to be combated with college campus enthusiasm. Make this into the Hunger Games, or whatever, and depict the GOP as oppressive and eager to make citizens fight one another (because that truly is what they are doing). The 18-22 aged vote is tough, especially with people not knowing exactly how an absentee ballot works, so donate, volunteer, whatever we have to do to combat the tractor drivers.

    Posted by: kpo5 | May 10, 2012 9:20:08 AM

  18. I think it won't make a difference. The American Public has such a short attention span this will be forgotten by November. I think it was a huge and important moment that will resonate for years to come. I'm also thinking of the African Americans that look up to him that might take a moment to think about what he said. It's a good thing all around.

    Posted by: AJ | May 10, 2012 9:23:52 AM

  19. You guys need to stop acting like those that voted in NC this week represent the general electorate. The body of voters that come out during President elections is wildly different and entirely more liberal than those that come out of the "off" elections.

    Posted by: joest | May 10, 2012 9:25:47 AM

  20. Kudos to the president. This is his last shot at the presidency and he's going for broke. I salute him for being upfront. And to hell with conservatives and other miscreants.

    Posted by: Richard | May 10, 2012 9:58:14 AM

  21. I was actually hoping this would come after the election. Hopefully this doesn't energize the opposition - I'd hate to see this issue push Romney over the finish line. Maybe the Obama campaign will repeatedly play that clip of Romney saying he was to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay issues (back when he was running for sentate as a moderate). I'm sure Obama knows what he's doing, but this was risky in an election year.

    Posted by: Will | May 10, 2012 10:09:24 AM

  22. Of course it's symbolic, but when the President of the United States speaks, symbolism matters. This was a milestone announcement, and it will advance the issue in a huge way.

    And, BTW, the President has supported the repeal of DOMA long before this announcement, it's just that now his personal statement matches his politics. And his DOJ has been fighting DOMA for some time now. Leaving marriage to the states has allowed states like my own to pass marriage equality. Eventually, when married gay couples get federal recognition, there will be a judicial domino effect where the patchwork of states rights will not make sense.

    While I would have been an Obama supporter in Nov already, this raises my enthusiasm level significantly. No sane gay person can pretend now that the 2 candidates position on marriage is "the same"--it never was, but now any pretense is over.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 10, 2012 10:12:33 AM

  23. Marriage equality has a higher approval rating than either Obama or Romney. Democrats and independents are close to 60% and higher. Catholics favor it in huge numbers. Think African Americans are going to vote out their first black president? If his stance on choice hasn't driven them out, this isn't going to do it. Being dishonest about this subject was starting to hurt him far worse. This endorsement could help in Washington, Maryland, Maine... The national media is behind this (except Fox) close to 200 of Americas mayors, the DNC will probably add this to their platform now, and the president now has the ability to add this to his "fairness" campaign. Control your body, get a fair shake at the economy, your education, equality. We're all in this together.

    No more hiding or mincing of words. He's the best speaker in generations. Free to speak his mind, he could move this debate faster than it already has been moving. The economy could still be the deciding factor, then I'd rather not lose those states where we are on the ballot. This is NOT the wedge issue it was. The majority for whom it is were never going to vote for him. But this could be the deciding factor towards him for many.

    Maybe even some gay republicans will come to their senses. A stretch I know, but even masochists take a break once in a while.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | May 10, 2012 10:27:04 AM

  24. We have had presidents that say " I have gay friends and like them" but continually work against the rights of those same " friends". But, for the first time we have a president that says not only does he like his gay friends but is willing to take a stand to help them. It shows a lot of back bone. Something we haven't seen in a president in a long time. It takes a lot of courage for any LGTB person to come out to your family and friends to begin with. I think it takes even more for a president to take a public stand for those same people in a pivotal election year. He has taken a big political risk for us as a minority and I personally plan to repay this risk by helping any way that I can. Thank you Mr. President.

    Posted by: Ro | May 10, 2012 10:29:18 AM

  25. @Joest: In the democratic primary in West Virginia tuesday, a prisoner got 40% of the vote to Obama's 60%. A PRISONER! That is the kind of stuff that worries me. Obama is weakest among working class and lower middle class white voters and they are hurting in this weak economy. Obama needs really strong support among the under 30 year olds. Their jobless rate is sky high. Will they have the enthusiasm to get out and vote for Obama? I hope so.

    Posted by: andrew | May 10, 2012 10:34:29 AM

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