President Obama recently announced his support of gay marriage. Many consider it to be a political move, while others think it is legitimate and just timed well. He has certainly laid ground for this position, with comments in 2010 about how his views were changing and the push to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the U.S. military’s discriminatory anti-gay practice.
Regardless of his true intentions, which are ultimately unknowable, this decision is sure to have a variety of consequences in the coming election.
Mitt Romney has been running primarily on an economic platform, and if this announcement drags out his previous support for gay rights, it would certainly hurt his standing with social conservatives. Romney may also be able to siphon off some of Obama’s voting block, in particular African-American voters, who as a group are typically strongly against gay marriage, according to the Pew Research Center.
If Obama can keep his voting base loyal, this decision may end up working out for him. His previous campaign succeeded partially because of vastly increased youth turnout, a rare occurrence when young people are some of the most apathetic voters in the country. They also tend to lean much more liberal than other demographics. Obama knows he needs the youth vote to succeed, which may prove difficult given his record of moderate compromises in policymaking.
No matter the political outcome, this is certainly a big statement of acceptance for the LGBTQ community, one that is unlikely to be quickly forgotten.