home
RSS
Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives, but political effects not yet clear
President Barack Obama addressing a gay rights group in 2011.
May 9th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives, but political effects not yet clear

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday outraged conservative Christian leaders, who vowed to use it as an organizing tool in the 2012 elections, but the move is also activating the liberal base, raising big questions about who gains and loses politically.

“It cuts both ways - it activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,” said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. “The most likely effect is that it makes an already close election even closer.”

In an interview with ABC News, Obama said, "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."

The announcement puts Obama at odds with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage and who voiced that opposition in an interview on Wednesday.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

"Considering that 10 of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the president's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election,” said Tony Perkins, president of the the conservative Family Research Council.

“The president has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger, Mitt Romney," Perkins continued. "Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama."

Obama stressed in the interview that his support was personal and that he would leave the issue of marriage to the states. But many conservatives chafed at the idea that the president's personal views would not affect public policy.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement saying the president's comments were "deeply saddening." Dolan's statement continued, "I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

Bishop Harry Jackson, the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church outside of Washington, DC, said that "I think the president has been in this place for awhile and that he chose this time because he thought that it might shift the balance of power." Jackson has long campaigned against same-sex marriage.

Ralph Reed, a top organizer among religious conservatives, said Obama’s announcement was a “gift to the Romney campaign.”

Romney, a Mormon who has evolved to a more conservative position on hot button social issues, has struggled with his party's largely evangelical conservative base in the primaries. But Reed said Obama’s gay marriage support would help Romney in many battleground states.

“The Obama campaign doesn’t have to worry about New York and California,” Reed said. “They have to worry about Ohio, Florida and Virginia and I don’t’ see evidence that it’s a winning issue in those states.”

Green said that public opinion about gay marriage has been shifting dramatically in recent years, with some polls showing more support than opposition. Green said that in many battlegrounds, including Ohio, it's impossible to nail down current public opinion on same-sex marriage. A Gallup Poll conducted this month found that 50% of American adults support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while 48% oppose it.

Reed noted that same-sex marriage bans have passed in virtually every state they have appeared on the ballot, including in North Carolina on Tuesday. That’s a typically red state that Obama won in 2008 and that is the site of the Democrat's 2012 convention.

Many liberal groups were ecstatic over Obama’s support for gay marriage. “Congratulations, Mr. President, for making history today by becoming the first sitting president to explicitly support marriage for same-sex couples,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

In his interview with ABC, Obama talked about squaring his decision with his personal religious faith.

“We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others,” Obama said, referencing his wife, Michelle.

“But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule,” he said. “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

One key Obama constituency that may be angered by his Wednesday announcement is African-Americans, who tend to be more religious than whites. Though they hew heavily Democratic, African-Americans are generally conservative on social issues like gay marriage.

- CNN's Eric Marrapodi, Shannon Travis, and Mary Snow contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Gay marriage

soundoff (2,108 Responses)
  1. Dillon

    In the name of Reginald Denny...can't we all just get along?!:)

    May 10, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  2. ott

    Hey gay ppl , why do u need an approval from someone ??????? Who cares , u r still doing it

    May 10, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • mr. saturday night

      Where I gru upp, sotomy wuz a strikt liabilitee ophense. U cud git throne inn jale 4 iff U hahd a BOHNER + axidentallee walkt in2 sum1 ellsis BUHTT.

      Times have changed.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Seine

      Are you serious? Some of the rights to a government sanctioned marriage include: tax benefits, visiting your partner in the hospital, opening joint bank accounts, making it easier to adopt children, more protection from domestic violence, and more. If the President voices his support then that a step forward.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Dillon

      So well said, Seine. I couldn't agree more!:)

      May 10, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Dillon

      At times, there seems to be a constant invoking of religion to justify ones position. Going to hell, etc. What about basic rights such as a hospital visit. You laid it out quite well.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  3. ...a laurel and hardy handshake....

    ..
    What a relief I am not christian – you argue about God so much that you forget the message.
    .
    Isaac Newton had it right – THE PERFECT RELIGION IS "LOVE GOD and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR" – NO NEED FOR A BUILDING or LITURGY or DOGMA. JUST LOVE GOD and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.
    .
    MY, HOW ALL CHRISTIANS FALL SO SHORT OF THEIR "GLORY' – WHERE IS THIS JESUS LOVE YOU SPEAK OF ?!!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • nuwansam

      Forget about love. They are scared that God will punish them for allowing gays to marry because they think God wrote the bible when it fact it was human beings who wrote it. These old belief which are etched hard in the minds of the many would not let them to accept any other way. These people are in a jail of false beliefs.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  4. hmmm...

    Finally!
    I applaud our leader for taking such stance. This is way overdue. Good job Obama.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • ciroc2323

      And I applaud NC. Obama had nothing but words. He could've endorsed unicorns today. Would've made about the same difference.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Observer

      It took guts to make the announcement on the heels of a strong defeat for his view. Just like it took guts to authorize the Seal attack on bin Laden.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • 13monkees

      Circo2323- Why would you applaud bigotry? Why would you applaud religious oppression? Gay marriage has absolutely zero effect on your life yet you would applaud making it illegal?
      Observer- I don't think too much of Obama's "guts" either. He could have perhaps stood up prior to this vote and maybe made a difference by influencing some voters, but instead he waited until now. It was purely political. The call to let the Seals go in after Osama was a good call, but didn't require any guts. It's not like Obama ever wore a uniform and served himself. Jimmy Carter made a decision to send in Special Operations to Iran to rescue the hostages, not with as much success however. Jimmy Carter was never accused of having gut though. I am really tired of the politicians on both sides of the aisle.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • mr. saturday night

      I don't know why gays would want to get married. I been married to the same woman for 53 years, and every night she beats me with a dead ferret.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  5. ott

    What is wrong with america ? Who cares what ppl do with their butt . Can we talk about something else . Plssssssss

    May 10, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  6. hilikus00

    Yeah, I'm sure all the religious conservatives need an eraser for their ballot now...this sealed the deal.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  7. ciroc2323

    Obama just endorsed what 1.3 million North Carolinian swing voters rejected last night. That'll help him until the 2% of gay people remember that the economy still sucks and Obama is still a blithering incompetent. Pretty sure there are more important issues than this.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Dillon

      Oh, of course, but lets have that vote put on a general election ballot.:)

      May 10, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Let's have it.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Dillon

      So, what do you think of the structural issues underlining the economy, Ciroc?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Dillon

      Mind you, I don't disagree with your argument about the economy.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • ciroc2323

      I think that no matter what the facts are, that your mind is a steel trap...always closed, because Obamo and his moonbat messiah rhetoric lured you in a long time ago and he reeled him in a sucker.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Dillon

      No, my mind is open. Tell me. What is so bad about Obama. Give me five bullets. I'll gladly say I'm wrong.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Dillon

      Do you know what I mean by a bullet?

      May 10, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Dillon

      See, this is the problem with America. Disagree with me..fine, but do it in an respectful manner. I respect your opinion. It should be respected, but you should engage in people that disagree with you. It's healthy.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Observer

      ciroc2323,

      President Obama has to fix the disasters left by Bush. Obama is stuck with paying for the $1,000,000,000,000 optional war the Republicans started for false reasons.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Dillon

      Just tell me how I've been drawn in as a sucker?

      May 10, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • ciroc2323

      I sent an apology and my response to your question but the censors here at CNN won't let it thru.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Dillon

      I agree, continue...and I would add the Bush 2009 projected budget, which all outgoing presidents throw down because they have to, showed a trillion dollar deficit

      May 10, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Dillon

      No need for an apology, my friend. It's cool.:)

      May 10, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • ciroc2323

      President Bush - for all his fiscally LIBERAL policies - brought us back from the dot-com bust and 9/11. Under Bush we had an all-time record 52 consecutive months of job growth, the DOW was at 14,000, the deficit under $161 billion, and unemployment at 4.2 – 4.5%.....UNTIL the democrats took over the House AND the Senate in January, 2007. And President Bush didn't RUIN Americans' futures for generations in the name of some whacked anti-American subversive marxist's disingenuous, anti-capitalism, pro-union, 24/7 politics-first America-last, marxist ideology and hidden agenda for wealth-redistributive social justice, along with TRILLIONS in union payoffs on the backs of American taxpayers.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • LinCA

      @ciroc2323

      You said, "I sent an apology and my response to your question but the censors here at CNN won't let it thru."

      CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. My guess is that your post had had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      May 10, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Good to know but I didn't use any of those words but will keep it in mind.
      Thanks.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Dillon

      Ciroc, what you just wrote is actually factually wrong and I would encourage you to check out the Congressional Budget Office for many of your stats there. You HAVE to keep the emotion out of an argument. One of the reason many Conservatives hit Santorum so hard is because he voted for many of the increased spending under Bush. Democrats can take some blame, but the Republicans have to take the share. You can't cut trillions in taxes...2001 and 2003...without a deficit exploding.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Observer

      ciroc2323,

      The recovery from Bush's disastrous presidency started soon after Obama took office. The same Democrats controlled Congress then too.

      Major difference; no Bush administration.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Dillon

      I have a truly hard time understanding how you can take 8 years of the Bush administration, many of which both houses were controlled by Republicans, and blame it on Democrats or Obama.

      We have structural problems in our economy that started decades ago. Certain problems take a long time and just fester until they rear their ugly heads as in 2007-2008.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Dillon

      I can respect you disliking or disagreeing with Obama policies, sure, but why the hate? I'm not a Bush supporter, but he seemed like a good guy who cared about his country. I just feel, as many other Americans do, he made several wrong turns.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Dillon

      Honestly, my friend, I can't answer some of what you wrote because it's not based in any sort of factual statement. You may dislike someone, but you have to give specific examples of Marxism(which Marx might be insulted for invoking his name) and cronyism.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Dillon

      ....and I'm not trying to be mean or put your opinion down.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Dillon

      IN the name of Reginald Denny...can't we all just get along?!:) Night everyone!:)

      May 10, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  8. Larry

    What i dont understand is how someone who claims to know the bible its history and claim to be some form of christian can say that certain people can have certain rights? Since when did christ teach discrimination and hate?

    May 10, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  9. mandarax

    After years of gut-wrenching endurance of George W. Bush, I try to remember at times like this to take a moment and appreciate the fact that that disgrace is gone, and that in his place we managed to elect a respectable, intelligent, and articulate human being.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  10. ciroc2323

    Whatever it takes to disguise his failure in the presidency. Distractions are a must.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • stan

      100% agree

      May 10, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Observer

      The last failure of a president was the last Republican president. After 8 years of Bush, the Dow Jones ended up with a net LOSS of 22%.

      Since Obama took office, the Dow is UP 60%.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  11. justinstl

    hetero people shot not be allowed to vote on gay marriage issues it simply is none of their business!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  12. Tired

    Sure...ever notice in an election year that politicians will tell you what you want to hear so they can get elected? More distraction. It's the economy guys! Refocus!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  13. justinstl

    If religious conservative do not like it they can move to Swtzerland with that crazy Bachmannn lady

    May 10, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Dillon

      Oh you should read in European papers what they think of the modern US Conservative.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Dillon, who gives an eff what euro trash thinks of American politics?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Dillon

      Ahhh...I was waiting for that response!!!

      May 10, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Dillon

      Figures...most Americans think their decisions don't affect the world...for good or bad.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Dillon

      Because this isn't an issue that is conservative or liberal. It's a human rights issue and has nothing to do with religious beliefs. It's about an individuals right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's about ALLLLL people around the world.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Dillon, I don't think most Americans live their lives according to the thought processes of people from Scandanavia.
      Maybe you do tho.

      Goodie for you.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • mandarax

      Most Americans aren't aware of the rest of the world. It's just another place on TV.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Dillon

      ...and I care what my Euro trash friends think of America because so many of them care about this country and still believe where America goes, so does the world.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Dillon

      Oh? Which Scandinavian country, Ciroc?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Well you can tell your Swede and Norwegian buds that American democracy is alive and well and the good people of NC just proved it.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Dillon

      9,656,401 That's the census population of NC. You mentioned 1.3 million people voted. Put two and two together, Ciroc.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Dillon

      No, my buds worry deeply about American democracy. When they see candidates such as Rick Santorum on a ballot, they cry...wait...that's the sound of Americans.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Dillon

      ...and I'm not trying to be mean or put your opinion down.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  14. Dillon

    I ask... I'm happily married, but why can't my brother and his partner share the same benefits I do?

    May 10, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  15. April

    Everyone knows he made the statement for the money–his big money bundlers are the ones that were upset that he hadn't supported the LBGT community –they are in control–that should be what disturbs people–they are his conscience–yikes!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Dillon

      Yeah, I think you may be right, but if you go back to previous statements given by Barack Obama, this isn't anything we didn't already know.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Observer

      lol.

      The NC vote shows that his position is unpopular there.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Dillon

      Perhaps, but lets remember this was a primary vote where turnout was probably low and the average age was probably rather high. We know where older folk stand on this issue. Lets have everyone over 18 in NC vote on t his issue. Rather, let's have this vote on the general election ballot. Guaranteed to be a lot closer...

      May 10, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Dillon

      Plus, it's known that religious conservative pour money into these elections. Look at what happened a few years ago in east Los Angeles during the domestic partnership vote. Poor blacks and hispanics were preyed upon by the Mormon church to vote against.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Realist

      Yeah...I'm sure he didn't make the statement because he actually believes it. What kind of a fool would do something like that?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Dillon

      You have to look at demographics and history when determining an outcome. A landslide doesn't always mean it's heavily favored in whatever you may be voting on. Gay marriage or not.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  16. K3Citizen

    The GOP has had the same level of hatred for Obama since his first day of office. This isn't a big deal being that the GOP has always said Obama wanted this.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  17. acajunthatsagun

    Obama was never going to get the conservative vote no matter what and failing to fulfil promises from 2008 he would have likely lost many younger voters. Now everyone knows where the candidates stand.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  18. Big Mike

    Unfortunately, gay marriage, abortion and guns are the issue of choice for many Americans. The President has just lost the election by taking this stance. Principled, but politically dumb. Why the LBGT community has so much say and so much PR while representing so few voters is a mystery to me.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Dillon

      Sometimes you have to take a principled stand on an issue. I think if you look at Truman pushing the recognition of Israel, the integration of the armed forces, and firing an extremely popular general are certain situations that come to mind. You might even add LBJ and the great society.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Dillon

      I'm also not sure I would say the LGBT community has much say. I like to think we are bringing everyone into the tent so as to enjoy equal rights that we should all have. I'm happily married, but why can't my brother and his partner share the same benefits I do?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • tallulah13

      Big Mike, you fail to understand that the majority of younger voters - the ones who were very instrumental in Obama's original election - support gay marriage. That's the thing - gay marriage will happen, because the younger generations are less influenced by fear, bigotry and religion than the older generations.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  19. jengeddie

    What will be seen: a stark contrast between a candidate who is guided by principles and a candidate whose views are dicated by the opinions he thinks will garnish a vote and secure a position for himself .

    May 10, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Realist

      Yeah...Romney WILL do or say just about anything for a vote. You hit the nail on the head.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • tallulah13

      I agree. I am not the biggest Obama fan, but I will vote for him because he demonstrates the belief in the principal of equality that is the foundation upon which this nation was built. Romney panders to some of the most immoral people in this country. He would be a disaster for the U.S.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  20. BADGUY

    "Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives" and "Lincoln's slave amancipation riles religious conservatives". The more things change the more they stay the same.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:18 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.