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.
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"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.
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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.
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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.
Wow, did anyone really think he was against it? I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see if he was for or against gay marriage!! I never would have thought that the most radical leftist ever elected to the presidency of the united states would be for gay marriage!! Kind of funny he comes out of the closet now when he needs votes.
Yep, going against the MAJORITY of the voters in NC is a sure way to help. Sure.
I'm curious. What was the overall participation rate in that NC vote? I'll bet 75% was over the age of 60.
How about we have that vote again, this fall??!:) Also, maybe declare the first Tuesday in November, the major election dates, a federal holiday?
I find it funny how every state that votes on gay marriage bans it, but the media keeps quoting polls that state the majority of Americans are for gay marriage. I wish they would stop going to gay clubs and doing polls.
I am a democrat, but definitely Obama is supporting this because he wants votes. The truth is many young people given him votes prior because they wanted an African American President. That campaign slogan "Change" worked for many people, but the issues of economy, unemployment, and such are still present. The young people who supported him by putting him in office are recent college graduates and such that want jobs. There are many people in heavy debt due to college and are either unemployed or underemployed. President was on Rolling Stone Magazine to get young people to vote for him in November. The President is no different than other politicians, too much talk and no enough action. He wants illegals children to stay in the USA, he still supports Afghanistan until 2024 by giving foreign aid, he wants gays to get married simply he wants votes, and a lot of things. He needs gays, Spanish voters, and young people. He knows that a lot of young people are not going to vote so he has to shift to other groups.
I respect gays, but the truth is this man will do jack squat for you all just like he did for the rest of the American people of making promises that he can't keep. He said that infrastructures like bridges, roads, and such be fixed. If anyone commutes on i-95 from Richmond to Washington DC, you clearly see the horrible conditions on the road due to potholes and other problems. The President promised things would change. It hasn't so don't believe the lies. Realize that US Politicians are full of real lies.
Good point, Misha, and I think a lot of people would agree with you that our politicians will say and do anything for votes. Don't agree with everything you wrote, but definitely some good points there.
Actually, I think it doesn't matter who becomes president now. You can't even get people to pay a few cents more per gallon for road improvements. I'd be more than happy to pay if it would help commuters.
You seem to have a short memory. Do you remember when the Republicans started a war for false reasons?
Do you remember when unemployment was skyrocketing and we were losing a half million jobs each month?
Do you remember when the stock market was PLUMMETING?
Did you miss the fact that the stock market is UP 60% since President Obama took over?
Do you remember when the last Republican president didn't care about the guy who started 9/11?
Whether political or personal, it was indeed a bold move. The President has stepped away from the traditional "puppet" arena to said what he supports. In America, we condemn people of authority for saying things we have been thinking all along. The "church" in America has cried "separation of church and state" for so long and has condemned any president for stepping outside of their religious bounds and ideals, that they have gone contrary to biblical principals by NOT praying for those who have authority over them. That is why other religions think Christians really don't know what they really believe- and I am a Christian! Bottom line- I liked some things Bush said and some I didn't. This is true for every other president. So the religious community can get into an uproar about the President's boldness, because when all the smoke settles they still wasn't going to vote for him anyway! Good job Mr. President!
Misha, you're not a Democrat I can tell...you're just pretending trying to sway someone and that's sad.
Lyndon B. Johnson called the KKK COWARDS IN THE NIGHT.
PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA ALSO SHOWS COURAGE WITH THIS ANNOUNCEMENT.
And the teanut-gop ---– SHORT ON GUTS!
Keep your religion out of politics.
If they want to play politics they should pay taxes lke everyone else
...GOT YOUR PHOTO IDs ?
...GOT YOUR VOTER's REGISTRATION CARDs ?
.. GOT YOUR VOTE READY TO RE-ELECT BARACK H. OBAMA ?
This is a perfect example...
I think what I find scary about many postings on here is the absolute ignorance and/or inability to sit down and actually be able to carry a logical conversation. Many of you say our country is falling apart because of issues like this, but have you ever given credence to maybe it has to do with folks who are just so...I hate to call dumb, but lets say they have very little knowledge of anything.
Not dumb...that was wrong of me...rather, an inability to comprehend issues beyond night and day.
No Dillion, you were correct. Dumb, stupid, illiterate and ignorant..it's all here in America..some people are SOS stuck. On. Stupid. I have met people from all walks of life and I can tell you now the best of them always had the ability to reason and listen to other inputs....dumb people, republicans and religious nut bags cannot and do not posess that vital skill which is so crucial to making rational decisions...
Well, it's really scary that people are being elected and sent to Washington with a clear lack of ability to legislate.
NC looks even more backwards than ever before.
To the religious right: How much peace has your JESUS BROUGHT IN 2000 YEARS ?
Matthew 10 >>
New International Version 1984
21“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. 24“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,c how much more the members of his household!
32“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’e
37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
He has brought peace to me... He promised that the road would not be easy, that is not why you follow his teachings. It is so you can have peace with yourself and other believers. The problem with America now, is that people have forgotten how to care about others... We don’t need the government to care for us. That’s what our comunities are for. Do not put someone down because he\she thinks differently then you do. Lift them up and they will tell you why they believe what they do. I am VERY good friends with people who are democrat atheists (polar opposite of me)... this is the peace that Jesus spoke about. I think that the commenter’s on this article could use a great deal of peace right now.
I am a Christian, and I applaud our President for boldly taking this position, and particularly for voicing it at this time, when it isn't totally "safe" to be honest–but better he be honest than a coward. My mind was changed nearly two years ago, when I heard the pain in the voice and in the words of a gay co-worker, who was convinced he'd never be allowed to marry. In that moment, I knew that despite whatever lead him to his path, I wanted him to be happy, and what right does anyone have to deny him? His love hurts no one, but keeps him and his partner incredibly happy.
When you bring it to that level, Shanda, you realize we are all the same at the end of the day, huh?! We all have basic needs and feelings and it's no different for a gay or a straight.
If gay people are attracted to men Why do their "wives" act like women? let some devil advocate answer me....
Go away and let the grown-ups talk, sweetie.
WoW! What a stereotype. This shows gross ignorance and is scary.
Why is this important to you? Answer please.
I also know gay couples where one partner is more feminine and the other is more masculine. I assume they live that way because they like it.
oel – good point.
Its true, they do act like women.
But they DON"T KNOW the force that's driving them.
Its satan, using them to make mockery of God's purpose and design!
That's what sin does to people, it twists, and deforms them inside and out.
And then he laughs at them when he has used them up and done them in!
And all the while he's telling them they are free! What a mockery!
But h-se-xuality is no different then any other sin, because all sin is causing (slow) death, but this one is just the shortcut to the bottom!
Those who are caught up in it need not to be screaming for acceptance but for deliverance from it.
Oh I love it when Christians invoke Obamacare or immigration while calling themselves true followers of Christ...ROFL!!!!!!!
Since God created Satan and gays, he shouldn't blame the gays.
You can't pull that one on God!
God created murderers too. But did HE make them do it?
If God created everything, then God created gays who are born that way. If you make something and claim it's defective, it's not the fault of your product, it's you.
Nope! They were NOT born "that way". If they were born normal, and are healthy (without deformity) male or female, then THEY ARE NOT born that way!
But I'll tell you what we all ARE born with: Sinful nature that will cross any line just to gratify itself, if we don't put under control our lusts. That's what the issue is here, and with every other sin and percversion.
But it is more complicated then I would want to get into now. ONLY GOD has the answer for those people, and only HE can help those who are in such bondage!.
Oh, right, PRISSY, you're an expert on all matters regarding s3xuality, aren't you?
What a laugh. You haven't been boinked in decades, and wow, does it ever show!
I agree with President Obama that government ought not tell people what to do in the most personal aspects of their lives. Remember when Conservatives used to feel that way....
I can't help but laugh at DNCNN's storyline about Obama.
Obama "evolves", yet Romney flip flops...
Are people REALLY that gullible??
Evolve is when one doesn't necessarily change their position as is evident by some of the presidents previous writings. He was never against gay marriage, per se. Romney writing an article for the Journal condemning government intervention for GM and Chrysler and then, the other day, taking credit for the bailout is a flip-flop. Or a lie.
Also, why is Mitt Romney running from a health care plan in the state of Massachusetts that is, for the most part, successful?
I think this president just lost this race. I kept hearing that polls support this issue but the fact is many States don't support this and I believe it will prove to be factor in his loss come November–we'll see.
It will, but I still hold the king decision to this June about a) Obamacare and b) the AZ immigration rulings.
i think gay people are mentally ill,how on earth does another man bend naked for fellow man?? Lord have mercy, the end of the world will start from America.
Why don't you sit down and have a serious discussion with someone who is gay. I'll bet you will find that they feel it's just as normal for them as it is for a man and a woman.
and how many people were killed by gays vs killed by Christians in history?
They do the same things to each other that your wife and you do to each other.
It's likely you know men and women who engage in hetero an-al s-x so what is your point?
sounds like a PITA to me
Oel...I'd call you mentally ill for a simple inability to be able to put together an argument as to your point. Stand your ground and argue, otherwise look to your local community college for a course on English 101
Balls, in the count do we count the lives lost in the AIDS epidemic from 1980 or so till present?
No Eddie, we don't. AIDS doesn't discriminate, it's just more easily transmitted through a-nal. I mean, really. What an ignorant question. How can you compare a horrible and tragic disease with a ton of supposedly loving, faithful Christian people murdering thousands of fellow humans in the name of their god?
DOMA will soon fall! Suck on that, Moral Majority or whatever you religious types call yourselves these days!
So it is right for a woman to be with a woman, and a man with a man? Biology would disagree that a planet with just women would exist for nothing more than 100 or so years. Same with just a planet full of men. Wasn't meant to be Biologically, Or by the Bible. Take your choice, there is nothing right about it. Our country is basically going to Hell quickly. I am not sinless by any means but I know what is right from wrong. Common sense please.
Keep your religious beliefs to yourself and out of government!
George, many mammals on this planet display ho.mo.se xu ality and humans are one of them.. Some animals can change s3x.. Some animals have both s3x.. Get a rather large dose of radiation from some natural deposit or CME from the Sun, and humans won't be reproducing at all for a little while–does that mean no s3x?. This is pretty simple.. Let consenting adults have commitments how they choose to define them–what they do behind closed doors is none of your business.
Poor George. It must be terrible to be in despair every time things don't go the way you think they should and people don't adhere to your beliefs. Life must be one great big disappointment for you.
There's nothing wrong with hom0s3xuality, except in your own mind.
George, go to a library and look up issues of culture, history, and science.
common sense would explain that not everybody is gay, so your doomsday scenario would never happen.
I think what makes humans unique is that the sole reason they marry is not for procreation. Other reasons like love plays a huge role.
Good point, Ruslan!
George- Don't worry. They don't get it. Self Control eludes them.
If you really believe in the bible then you can't be asking for common sense. Common sense would tell you these stories are not true. Let gays live their lives already, they are no threat to you OR your beliefs.
Look up parthenogenesis. It's when two females reproduce by combining their eggs into a viable offspring, all without any need for males. There are living species in this world who reproduce in this fashion. Then explain to us how Intelligent Design accounts for this. Oh, and as a bonus, parthenogenesis has the word GENESIS in it. Score one for the atheist heathen biologists!
George, as you can see by the comments: people who do not respect the Bible or the GOD who's written word it is think that there is no difference between mankind and animals. That is one of the reasons they act like animals and make no excuse for it. Then there is Obama who talks about "The Golden Rule" but doesn't mention Je sus saying to the immoral woman, "Go and sin no more."
@It comes down to this...
You said, "people who do not respect the Bible or the GOD who's written word it is think that there is no difference between mankind and animals."
You have to be completely ignorant, willfully or otherwise, to believe that there is any truth to be found in the bible, or that your imaginary friend actually exists. You have to be completely off your rocker if you believe that humans are not animals.
Don't get me wrong, you are free to be an idiot as much as you wish. You are free to believe and worship as you please. Ignorance and stupidity aren't illegal. But you better keep that nonsense out of the lives of people that do have more than a couple of brain cells.
You said, "Je sus saying to the immoral woman, "Go and sin no more.""
Sin is exclusively reserved for those that follow religion. Those that don't, are incapable of sin.
It comes down to this...,
It's probably not a good idea to use the Bible to trash gays since it also supports slavery and discrimination against the handicapped and it's likely that you don't support them. It's all pick-and-choose.
George, why does every relationship have to be for reproduction? We have too many people on the planet already, don't you see that? If everyone thought their purpose in life was to have as many babies as possible, we would all be dead. Our planet just can't support that.
Yes, George, common sense please. There is more proof that se.xual orientation is decided in the womb than there is proof of the existence of any god. So why do you believe in god?
Can this section be any more scary? WoW!
How can someone call us the greatest country in the history of this planet when we divide and discourage everyone from participating in the "American Dream?"
Most gays have turned gay because we have issues with our fathers. We are looking for a strong man in our lives and can't find one since we are all the same. That's why we are having one night stands with hundreds of men at the bus stations. We haven't matured past age 13.
Sounds good to me! Now I want to get married and settle down! You have a problem with that, brother? Or are you really gay?
Excuse me? My brother and father have an incredible relationship and when my brother came out to all of us, we hugged him and ate our turkey.
Nobody "turns gay". You are BORN gay or straight.
these "facts" brought to you by the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Gallagher, it sounds like you have no idea what you are talking about.
The ballots in November should read:
Hate Obama and Romney, stuck with voting for the oddball
Because let's face it: The liberal illusion of Obama is running against conservative illusion of Obama. Romney is just the plastic manikin in the window.
you know all he needs to do is condemn israel and sancion them and i will vote for the guy