Finally, President Obama has made clear his opinion on same-sex marriages. Until recently his support for same sex marriage was deliberately the worst kept secret in politics. Therefore, from a policy perspective, Obama’s announcement changes nothing. Yet conservatives should be thrilled that the President has finally opted for honesty.
Neither supporters nor detractors ever believed Obama actually opposed same-sex marriage. Obama maintained the myth of supporting traditional values in a crass attempt to appeal to main street America – his stated position gave some plausible deniability thus allowing them to vote for Obama while assuaging consciences otherwise troubled by expanding the definition of marriage. This is a typical political calculation, so why would Obama reject it on the cusp of a national election?
You can argue that the undisciplined and buffoonish Vice President compelled the President to speak, but then you would have to explain why Biden’s asininities never before forced Obama’s hand. In 2004, while running for the U.S. Senate, Obama said that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” In 2008, while running for President, Mr. Obama repeated the statement. Obama had a record that rhetorically inoculated him against facing the issue in 2012 – unless he wanted to do so.
Same sex marriage is legal in eight states. It is illegal in 41 states. The fact is that whenever, wherever the voters have had a direct say on the issue, the public has opposed same sex marriage. Same sex marriage has only been legalized by the courts, or a legislative body. In a national election, supporting same sex marriage is not the politically wise thing to do. In a recent CBS News/NY Times national poll, 38 percent support same sex marriage, and 51 percent oppose. More importantly, the announcement by the President gains him no votes, but causes a full 25 percent of people who intended to vote for Obama to “reconsider.”
Barack Obama announced his support for same sex unions, not because his views “evolved,” and not because he is a fearless crusader, but because he had to. Unpopular though it may be, Obama needs the same-sex marriage issue to rev up his base of young Progressives. I am happy with the President’s announcement because it tells me his campaign is in more trouble than I had hoped.
National polls of registered voters may indicate a close race, but state by state polls of likely voters are hinting at a big Romney win. Obama long ago lost men, and is now losing women. Obama is losing among those over 45 year of age, and those under 45. Independents have turned sharply against him. His youthful, hopey-changey college age hordes have simply gotten bored with Obama. He needed something to shiny to gain their attention.
President is fast becoming desperate. In the states where same sex marriage could be a plus (California, New York) he does not need it. In those states he needs (Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania) same sex marriage support seems to be a minus. Among his loyalist constituency, black voters, same sex marriage is widely opposed. Despite all the inherent political risks, Obama had to support same sex marriage. An appeal to the base of coastal and young Leftists – a group he should be moving away from at this phase of a campaign – is still necessary.
On the actual issue of same sex marriage, I do not really care one way or the other (I support DOMA in so far as I think the issue – according to my federalist leanings – should be decided on a state by state basis). But I am thrilled Obama is out and proud with his support because it tells me that he does not have a conventional path to re-election.