Gay Marriage and the Candidates

After years of saying that his thinking was still evolving on the subject of gay marriage, President Barack Obama says that he has made up his mind–he is okay with it. Years of tortured, tightrope walking on the issue has come to an end, and it changes…absolutely nothing…except for how a negative talking point on Mitt Romney is going to be framed. And it isn’t the talking point you think it is.

First, the President–for years he has spoken of how people should not give any grief to those pursuing alternate lifestyles. He even invokes his Christian faith when he talks about his attitude towards gays, which is interesting on two fronts. One, it isn’t really that often that the President talks about his faith. Two, the Bible repeatedly speaks against homosexual behavior. The President refers to at least one such passage in Romans as “obscure,” and instead encourages people to remember the Golden Rule.

Anyway, the President would go out of his way to defend homosexual rights then on the subject of gay marriage, he would always hedge without really saying why.

But the waiting is over. Many thought the President might hold off until after the November election to finish evolving on this. Instead he is taking a stand now.

Here’s how it doesn’t impact the election: For people for whom this is a hot button issue, the Democratic Party is already their home, generally speaking. For people who are against gay marriage, they already tend to vote Republican.

Here’s how it might affect the election: One of the attacks that critics make on Mitt Romney is that he is a flip flopper who must have no core values. He never really changes his mind, he’s just pandering to different sets of voters, or so goes the argument. It will be harder to make that attack now. If the President is allowed to change his mind on this or any other issue, how can Democrats demand eternal consistency from Romney?

For those who argue that this issue really might galvanize voters whose minds were not already made up, it could spell trouble for the President. While a majority of younger Americans might be okay with gay marriage, 30 states have passed amendments or laws defining marriage as a partnership between one man and one woman. Older voters do not seem to be with the President on this.