Like Fenton, Mike McManus thinks the president has “signed his death certificate.” Unlike Fenton, McManus thinks Obama is on the wrong side of the issue.
McManus, who runs a Christian counseling group in Potomac, doesn’t think Obama acted out of conscience, but rather because he was “outed” when Vice President Biden made his support for same-sex marriage plain last weekend.
“This is a religious country,” McManus said.
Still, he said, views are changing and even churches are reluctant to take a strong stand. He’s been gathering signatures to put a referendum on the Maryland ballot this fall to overturn the new law allowing same-sex marriage, and of the 10 churches he called Wednesday to ask if he could put petitions in their lobbies, eight declined, for fear of alienating divided members, he said.
Although marriage wasn’t a factor for African Americans in Obama’s first campaign, it could be this time, said William Cabell, 49, of Upper Marlboro. Obama’s new stance “threw me for a curve. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to support him now, because I don’t have the same belief.”
Cabell, a black Democrat, knows he will vote against same-sex marriage in Maryland’s referendum but can’t see casting another ballot for Obama.
“I’d love to be supportive to my president,” said Cabell, who works for the Montgomery County school system. “I have to be loyal to my God.”
The Rev. Nathaniel Thomas, pastor of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church and a leader of the campaign against Maryland’s new marriage law, said Obama’s statement “took the wind out of me. His family image has been great for our community, and now he has allowed another agenda to cloud the great, positive image he created of the black family.”
Wenona Price, however, plans to stick with Obama, even though she will vote against same-sex marriage in Maryland.
“There are a lot of things that people might do that I don’t agree with, but it doesn’t mean that we end our relationship,” said Price, 49, an entrepreneur in Clinton. “You have to look at his work in the past four years. I think his pluses outweigh his minuses.”
Diana King, an 18-year-old Alexandrian who will vote for the first time this fall, disagrees intensely with Obama on the issue. “God didn’t make people like that,” she said. “He didn’t make two men to have babies together.”
But she intends to vote for him anyway; she remains moved by his personal story of being raised by a single mother to become the first African American president.
“He inspires me,” King said.
Staff writers Emma Brown, Hamil R. Harris and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.