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 North America editor

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  • rate this
    0

    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
    0

    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
    0

    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
    +2

    Comment number 400.

    386.MagicKirin

    "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
    0

    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.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 398.

    The church does not own marriage

    This is about equality

    Noone is taking away your tradition, just extending it to others.
    (Straight couples can still get married)

    Traditions are by necessity borne out of the past, if a tradition is wrong it should be changed.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 397.

    @ LucyJ
    I wasn't saying that religion should actively endorse homosexuality, but they do not have to be incompatible.

    As to my friend I mentioned earlier, the point was that she 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. That's sad.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 396.

    Andhere we go again: by restricting the use of the "marriage" it does suggest a gay commitment it somehow lesser

    Its not lesser, its a new age tradition

    How is having the same rights considered lesser?

    Clearly this is not about equality or having the same rights

    Its about taking away one group's thousand year old tradition
    that belongs to them

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 395.

    AndHere We Go Again: Why does it matter if a religious book supports homosexuality?

    Are there any religions or religious books that supports gay marriage?

    Some posters have said that their friends are religious+gay
    so I'm trying to figure out what religion promotes gay marriage?
    cause' I can't think of any

    I know what the Bible says
    that only marriage between man+woman is sacred

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 394.

    Because they can't refer to themselves the same way a straight couple can

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 393.

    And here we go again: It matters to the gay community because using a different term means the two are not equal, regardless of the legality

    Why do you consider having the same rights as "not equal"?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 392.

    @391
    You make a good point & yes it would be changing the definition of marriage.

    My view is that a gay couple should be able to refer to themselves the same was a hetrosexual one can. If all marriages that weren't in churches were called civil unions for example that would also work, but by restricting the use of the "marriage" it does suggest a gay commitment it somehow lesser
    (I'm straight)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 391.

    ref #388
    It matters to the gay community because using a different term means the two are not equal
    ________
    For me personaly it doesn't matter, I am confident in my own beliefs. But you just made the other sides point to some marriage means between and a man and a woman (historicly thats true) you seem to think those people's feeling are irrelevant

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 390.

    Re "US is tribal and sectarian:". Unlike...:

    http://ploum.net/post/the-european-joke

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 389.

    I deeply and sincerely apologise for linking to a long standing, incontrovertible NAMBLA entry in Wikipedia.


    Obviously nothing like NAMBLA exists and the pertinent Wikipedia entry is disruptive/offensive to at the most 5% of US population.

    [perhaps to a higher % in some other countries]

    Sorry about that!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 388.

    @ 386. MagicKirin
    "would you accept cival unions with all the rights but not the name marriage?"

    Marriage is just a word. If you are okay with people living as a married couple, with exactly the same rights as a hetrosexual couple why does it matter to you what it's called? It matters to the gay community because using a different term means the two are not equal, regardless of the legality.

  • Comment number 387.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 386.

    ref #380
    Christians will never compromise or tolerate on this issue.
    _______
    You are missing my point you are coming from a persepctive that gay marriage is the only right deicsion. some disagree would you accept cival unions with all the rights but not the name marriage? The atheist anology is another example of intolerance

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 385.

    To close, the main thing that irks me about the religious argument is that, if there is a God, I don't want him to be that pretty. If a God could overlook a lifetime of good deeds and damn you because you happen to be gay, then that is not someone I could every respect. I would rather go to hell than judge my fellow humans for something they do not control and harms noone

  • Comment number 384.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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