Hope and change for the Obama campaign?

ABC News' Robin Roberts (left) interviews US President Barack Obama at the White House 9 May 2012 President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage ended years of equivocation

President Barack Obama has been forced out of the closet. Few doubted that he was in favour of gay marriage but "don't ask, don't tell" had worked well enough up until now.

The media didn't ask him. And he certainly wasn't going to tell.

I am told his campaign staff really thought they could get away with not touching this hot button issue, and go through until election night leaving his views draped with hazy protestations about the ongoing "evolution" of his views.

I have trouble believing that they thought he could avoid the question until November. But there is no doubt that the rapid evolution of his views into the limelight was not intelligent design.

Unless you see Vice President Joe Biden as the creator of presidential frankness.

The "Veep" is sometimes regarded in Washington as a bit of a loose canon for actually answering questions.

It seems a stage too far to call it a gaffe when a political speaks honestly. But his declaration that he was "absolutely comfortable" did not go well in the White House.

It led to a media feeding frenzy and a couple of torrid days of questions for Mr Obama's spokesman. Swiftly followed by this hastily arranged interview with ABC News.

Hope and change

It had become a question of character.

Coming out against gay marriage would be a non-starter. It Is not what he thinks and it would enrage crucial supporters.

At a time when his staff are trying to project the image of a strong, tough president, looking too scared to voice an opinion about this iconic issue would have looked terrible.

There are real risks. It may make it harder to get some Christian African-Americans to come out and vote. These views won't help him win the important states of North Carolina and Virginia.

But if pundits view his decision as dangerous, many supporters will see it as courageous. Views are changing fast in America.

With a poll out recently suggesting a 50/48 split in favour of gay marriage, Rick Santorum fulminating about "social engineering" by "the hard left" may delight some Republicans, and Mitt Romney's repetition that marriage is between a man and a woman will reassure others.

But many Democrats would rather their man led, than followed.

Just because the timing of this announcement was unplanned and unwanted doesn't mean it was undebated within the White House.

They may have seen little alternative, but also recognise that President Obama gets some kudos for being the first president to support gay marriage.

It injects a little hope and change into a campaign where supporters strain to find much of either.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    MK & Lucy.
    “Separate but Equal” was inherently unequal [qv supreme court decision, not to mention fairness and humanity]. It was bad for African-Americans and it is bad for any other minority group. If you want to practice apartheid or other ancient inhumanities, please emigrate to an island where you can do so without bothering civilized people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    Here is the issue that is raised:
    Will this become a federal issue?
    If it becomes a federal issue, will churches lose tax exempt status if they don't toe the line, i.e, go against their principals.
    It is inconceivable that activists having won this battle will not continue to push this issue further.
    Sanctions for churches who do not do as they advocate? You decide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    385 And_here_we_go_again
    Have you read Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] "Letters from Earth." It was a real eyeopener for me and helped me escape from the box of “Christian” conformity. [“...” because reading the sayings of Jesus shows that those who most loudly call themselves by his name are often not following his teachings.]

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.


    "You are missing my point you are coming from a persepctive that gay marriage is the only right deicsion..."

    You just don't get it, I'm coming from the prespective that there is no "right" decision. And by the way, I'm no Atheist, I'm just not so self important that I'll dictate what others can do or how they should live. Just live your life and let God decide in the end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    397 :
    my friend...will not allow herself to be herself because of the religion. She will not date someone of the same sex as she considers it wrong but can not make herself fancy men, so she's never really dated for a decade."
    Divorced&separated face the same situation in some faiths.Doing what one believes to be pleasing to God according to their faith can require sacrifice.


Comments 5 of 403



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