After Vice President Joe Biden drew attention to President Obama’s “evolving” views on same-sex marriage by expressing his own unequivocal support for it on Meet the Press last Sunday, The New York Times and The Washington Post both linked the president’s ambivalence to concerns about alienating socially conservative Black voters.
Courting ‘Politically Influential’ Pastors
Same-sex marriage “is opposed by socially conservative blacks, particularly politically influential ministers, whose strong turnout Mr. Obama needs,” The New York Times reported.
Exposing Internal Tensions
The Biden episode has exposed “internal tensions within Obama’s team” between those who want the president to affirm support same-sex marriage before the November election and “others who worry about a political backlash if he does,” including “African Americans who are Obama’s most loyal support bloc but tend to oppose such unions,” reported the The Washington Post.
Ignoring Opposition Voices
There’s a “complete absence” of African American opposition voices in both articles, said media critic Terry Mattingly at GetReligion.org. “Do Times editors realize how offended many African-American pastors are when told that they are important simply because of their political clout, and not their roles as pastors and community leaders?” asked Mattingly. He predicts “new and/or renewed coverage, soon, of how young African-American pastors are clashing with old African-American pastors on this issue.”
Calculating the Political Risk
It may not be worth alienating “devout” African Americans, or working class Whites and Latinos, said Keith Owens at. He also said he’s not sure it is “correct” to assume that the president secretly supports same-sex marriage, even though there is legislative precedent to assume that he does, like his repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Not Showing ‘Backbone’
It’s time for the president to give a speech in favor of same-sex marriage, said David Swerdlick at The Root. Among the reasons: “Older voters are more skeptical of same-sex marriage, but across the political spectrum, everyone favors showing some backbone.”
Underestimating Black Support
It may not matter either way, said Perry Bacon, Jr. at The Grio, because “it’s not clear” that socially conservative Black voters would swing toward Romney if the president were to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. “The president has intense popularity in the black community,” said Bacon Jr.
What do you think?
Would it cost the president votes with socially conservative Black voters if he came out in favor of same-sex marriage?