“I don’t think it could cost him the election, but I think they’re scared it might, and they don’t want to take the chance,” said Jim Williams, issue polling specialist for Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based Democratic research firm. “Politicians are cautious people. Public opinion on gay marriage is shifting very quickly.”
Obama is taping an interview this afternoon with ABC News in which the topic is likely to be addressed. It was scheduled after Biden and Duncan made their statements.
As North Carolina yesterday passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, a Colorado legislative committee approved a bill allowing homosexuals to enter into civil unions. Republicans in the Colorado House later killed the measure by delaying the vote past a midnight deadline.
Gay-rights advocates called on Obama to express unqualified support for same-sex marriage. He has stopped short of that, and the issue continues to pose risks for the president in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, said Paul Allen Beck, a professor of political science at Ohio State University in Columbus.
‘Siphoning Off’ Voters
“Ohio is shaping up as a very close contest,” Beck said. “Ohio has a large Catholic population that is working class in orientation and hasn’t been particularly warm toward Obama. I’m sure he’s concerned about that. You worry about even one little change in your posture that has the effect of siphoning off some voters to the other candidate.”
In a May 6 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said he is “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”
The next day, White House spokesman Jay Carney deflected repeated questions from reporters trying to draw out Obama’s opinion on gay marriage, which the president has said is “evolving.” The president supports civil unions and federal rights for gay couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same- sex marriage, according to the White House website.
“I have no update on the president’s personal views,” Carney said. “What the vice president said yesterday was to make the same point that the president has made previously, that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to roll back those rights.”
Obama’s opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a gay marriage opponent, also recently found himself in the crosshairs of the debate when his openly gay foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, resigned May 1 -- less than two weeks after being hired -- following criticism from social conservatives.