epending on whether you think Vice President Joe Biden endorsed same-sex marriage on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday (hint: Almost everybody thinks he did), Education Secretary Arne Duncan became either the second or third Obama Cabinet member to embrace gay marriage, in an appearance Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan lent his support in November 2011.) Most observers on both sides of the issue think President Obama secretly agrees with Duncan but won't say so publicly for political reasons. That's wearing thin with gay-marriage supporters, as well as political reporters. Would Obama be better off if he just endorsed same-sex marriage?
Just get off the fence, already: Obama's only hurting himself by cynically trying to have it both ways on marriage equality, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. Polls show that there's only "a handful of voters in America who are bigoted enough" to vote against a candidate for opposing marriage equality, and few of them would support Obama, anyway. So all he's really doing is "angering the only people who really care about the issue," deep-pocketed gay-rights activists who expect Obama to stand up for their basic human rights.
"The Obama campaign's marriage equality conundrum"
Obama's wise to hold back: On the contrary, "Obama would gain little — and could well lose out among a critical core constituency — if he came out in favor of gay marriage before the election," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. A slim majority of Americans now back legalizing same-sex marriage, but some "key subgroups," like older voters and African-Americans, don't. It's an "unnecessary political risk" to thrill gay supporters at the cost of alienating the black voters "he desperately needs to win re-election."
"Why is President Obama still 'evolving' on gay marriage?"
Who cares what Obama says? The president's view of gay marriage is "inconsequential in the most literal sense of the word: It has no consequences," says Tom Hilton at No More Mister Nice Blog. Marriage is a state issue, and the few things Obama can do to advance marriage equality — opposing state-level bans and not defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court — he's doing. No matter where you stand on gay marriage, if you care about more than just posing, that's what matters.
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