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Patrons walk by the Stonewall Inn, a historic gay bar in Greenwich Village, after President Barack Obama announced today that same sex couples should be able to get married on May 9, 2012 in New York City.
President Obama has declared his support for same-sex marriage after years of stating that “marriage is between a man and a woman” or more recently that his position on gay marriage is evolving. This turn-around on the topic is getting whoops of celebration in some quarters, criticism and cynical skepticism from others.
Politically, this statement of support can cut both ways for almost every group. Many long-time gay rights advocates reacted with relief and glee. Finally the president has lived up to his implicit support for gay rights. Others though were angry and critical of the personal nature of Obama’s declaration.
Personally he supports gay marriage but practically he would leave legislation to the states. Not what they had hoped for. African Americans, the president’s most loyal voting block, are deeply divided on the notion of gay marriage and this statement will undoubtedly alienate some black voters who cannot support a president who embraces gay marriage. Would they vote for Romney? Probably not, but many religiously inclined African Americans are already stating that they won’t vote for Obama.
Some are saying the president’s hand was forced on the issue when Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s surprised everyone last weekend publicly sanctioning gay marriage. The theory goes, the president was compelled to make his views more explicit. But this may have been part of the political calculation.
The question is will this help or hurt the president in his race to be re-elected? Also, how far is Obama willing to go? Will legal gay marriage be part of his legacy? Or will he back away from any national right to marriage law?
Ari Shapiro, White House Correspondent, NPR (National Public Radio)
Linda Feldmann, White House Correspondent, Christian Science Monitor
Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief for the Gallup Poll
Jonathan Saenz, Attorney and Director of Legislative Affairs, The Liberty Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families