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Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 03/23/2012

Obama advisers debating gay marriage

Obama’s top political advisers have held serious discussions with leading Democrats about the upsides and downsides of coming out for gay marriage before the fall election, a Democratic strategist who has discussed these matters directly with Obama's campaign inner circle tells me.

This does not mean that it will happen, and there are plenty of reasons to assume it won’t. Indeed, it would be political malpractice if Obama’s top advisers didn’t discuss every permutation and possibility, no matter how far fetched. However, the fact that it has been discussed seriously at high levels means it’s not out of the question.

Those advisers are convinced that Obama will make this call based on his gut, and ultimately without regard to the fine-grained political analysis of the situation, the source says.

Some top Democrats have privately advised Obama’s inner circle that such a move could energize Democrats far beyond the gay community. The discussions have centered on Obama’s successful repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and how it has signaled that major advances on gay rights energize young voters and other progressive Democrats,by helping recapure the historic and foward-looking aura of 2008, the source says.

“This would help in terms of reinvigorating some of the excitment from 2008,” the source says, characterizing the discussions. “It’s not just about gay people. There’s an upside with the progressive community and young people in general. Obama's advisers are in listening mode.”

Obama’s advisers are also well aware that various state-based initiatives will continue forcing this issue into the news, the source says.

However, some top Democrats worry about the impact of such a move among older blue collar voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to confirm any internal discussions.

“There’s been a lot of uninformed speculation in the news on this,” he said. “The President and the President alone will come to a decision. From allowing hospital visitation rights for gay partners to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, President Obama has done more to advance equal rights for gays and lesbians than any other President — a record we intend to highlight.”

Indeed, the source says that Obama’s top advisers are convinced he will make this call on his own. “They don’t think he’s going to make this decision based on the polling,” the source says. “He’s just going to make it. They do not know at the end of the day where he’s going to end up.”

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By  |  12:33 PM ET, 03/23/2012

 
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