If the fastest way to self esteem is to stand up for what you believe, President Obama is standing tall this week–even though it has taken a long “evolution” to stand up for marriage equality. What do you think? Will it help or hurt his reelection prospects?
The newest issue of Newsweek Magazine has declared President Obama “The First Gay President.” The cover features a photo of Obama with a rainbow-colored halo around his head. The cover comes less than a week after Obama voiced his support for gay marriage.
Does this portrayal help or hurt Obama’s re-election chances?
As gay rights leader John Aravosis says in an op ed about President Obama’s declaration of support for same sex marriage, “The president who seemed almost afraid of change became an agent of change. The man we voted for was finally back.”
For the most part, what voters want to see is a strong leader who says what he means and means what he says. Polls are showing that this stance might even help, as Aravosis observes, to reenergize Obama’s base which has been discouraged by his penchant for appeasing Republicans on so many issues. A Pew Research poll (PDF) found 49 percent of whites surveyed and 68 percent of African-Americans said the president’s embrace of marriage equality did not change their opinion of him. And in both groups, more who changed said they moved to a better opinion than worse.
Whether the decision was from conviction or political shrewdness, Obama really didn’t have a choice, based on where public opinion and his Democratic base are. And when it comes to the realpolitik of the looming general election, the size and fierceness of gay activists easily matches that of the far right homophobes. Both will be organizing and mobilizing like crazy. And this might just be one instance where truth, justice, and the American way of fairness for all will prevail.