Forum Center, 5/29/12

President Obama Announces Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Most pundits believe that this Presidential election will be decided on the issue of the economic health of the country. The nation’s jobless rate and the economy are the number one concern of Americans in every poll. Both candidates, Romney and Obama, are busy testing messages on how they would lead the nation with regard to the economy. President Barack Obama has the task of explaining that his policies saved the country from greater economic collapse and that the road to full recovery depends on staying with his economic plan. Romney, whom we may presume to be the Republican standard bearer, will sound a message of alarm that the Obama policies have lengthened the recession and are restraining market forces that could fuel a roaring recovery. Both candidates and their respective campaigns understand that pocketbook issues will likely determine the outcome of the election.

However, earlier this month on May 9, President Obama delivered a surprising message taking a support position on the social wedge-issue of same-sex marriage. It was surprising because his stated position previously was that he opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry. In doing so, he became the first President to endorse same-sex marriage.  Some observers accept the President’s explanation that his position on this issue has evolved over a period of time. They argue that he will benefit politically in November for having the courage to announce his changed position on this controversial issue. Other observers believe that he was forced into the position by the earlier statements made by Vice President Biden who announced his support same-sex marriage prior to the President’s announcement. Some political pundits believe that the position will hurt the President with some of his core constituencies.

The reaction to the Presidents new position was immediate and divided. A recent Gallup poll shows the President’s controversial May 9 decision to back same-sex marriage is hurting his chances among independent voters. The USA Today/Gallup poll claimed 23 percent of independents say President Obama’s decision will make them less likely to vote for him, while only 11 percent say it will make them more likely to vote for the President. The same poll shows that 10 percent of Democrats say the decision will make them less likely to vote for Obama, where among Republicans only 2 percent say it will make them more likely to vote for him.

The President’s decision also appears to have eroded some of his support among African-American voters and evoked strong criticism from some Black ministers. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in November found that 58 percent of African Americans called same-sex marriage “unacceptable.” However the NAACP’s board of directors has now voted to endorse same-sex marriage rights. This support of the country’s leading black civil rights organization in a debate that has divided the African-American community may be the hope to offset angered church pastors and hold this key constituent group together in favor of the President.

Forum Question of the Week:

Do you believe that the President’s decision to support same sex marriage will help or hurt his chances in his re-election bid in November? 

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