President Barack Obama and his advisers
agonized for months over whether the president would publicly support gay
Obama said in interview earlier this
month with ABC News' Robin Roberts that he supports equal marriage
rights for gay and lesbian couples. Previously, the president had
said he favored civil unions and was “evolving” on marriage.
The haste with which the interview was
arranged fueled the narrative that Obama's endorsement was forced by
Vice President Joe Biden's supportive remarks made four days earlier.
But in an exhaustive New
York magazine feature on the Obama campaign, John Heilemann
notes that the issue had been on the table for months.
“The question of whether Obama's new
stance narrows or widens his path to victory in November is one that
[White House communications director David] Plouffe and his comrades
have been agonizing over since early this year, when their boss
returned from vacation and told them he wanted to take the plunge.
The possible political benefits are clear: jazzing up young voters,
ginning up gay dollars. As are the costs: turning off socially
conservative Democrats and independents, particularly in four pivotal
swing states – Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. But as to
the net effect of the announcement on Obama's ability to accumulate
270 electoral votes, his adjutants are unable to render a firm
verdict,” Heilemann wrote.
“I think there is more upside
potential than downside potential,” Plouffe is quoted as saying.
“But is there a scenario where it's harder? Yes.”