Speak Out: Will Same-Sex Marriage Stance Help, Hurt Obama in November?
The president said Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage.
President Barack Obama picked the day after a decisive vote in North Carolina to announce that his "evolution" on the issue of same-sex marriage was complete—he now supports it.
In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Obama said:
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.
ABC broadcast a special report with clips from its interview with Obama just before 3 p.m. Wednesday. The full interview is scheduled to air on "Good Morning America" on Thursday.
North Carolinians voted overwhelmingly to amend that state's constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages and civil unions on Tuesday.
Amy Becker, an assistant professor of communication at Towson University in Maryland, said most observers expected Obama to make this announcement after the November election.
But his hand may have been forced, she said, by Vice President Joe Biden, who on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday described himself as "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage. On Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan — an Arlington resident — also came out in favor of same-sex marriage.
The president's stance is now front and center in an election year. In contrast, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama's presumptive Republican challenger, publicly opposes same-sex marriage.
"The Republicans are going to pick up and run with this and a lot of people in the news media are going to speculate about what this means for the presidential race," Becker said. "While a lot of people argue it's the right move, it might not be the safest move, politically."
Counting Tuesday's vote in North Carolina, people in 32 states have voted against same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states and Washington, D.C.
However, statistics show the tide appears to be turning, locally and nationally. A Pew Research Center study found that 43 percent of Americans now support allowing same-sex couples to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009.
Becker said analysts should be "cautious" in predicting the impact of the president's announcement, but that turnout among youth and church-going African-Americans will be key for both sides. According to the Pew study, 63 percent of people born in 1981 or later support same-sex marriage. But support slips to just 33 percent among black protestants and 14 percent among white evangelicals.
Do you think the president's stance on gay marriage will help or hurt him in his bid for re-election?