How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage

obama gay wedding(Community Matters) Playbook: N.Y. Times Magazine “How the White House got to ‘I do’: Inside the tentative, anxious, heavily scripted and occasionally blundering ‘evolution’ of a president’s view on gay marriage,” by Jo Becker, a Times investigative reporter; adapted from “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” to be published Tuesday by Penguin Press: “[I]f he was really contemplating an endorsement of same-sex marriage, his advisers urged him to do it in a manner that caused minimal political damage. David Plouffe … reached out to Ken Mehlman for advice. …

“Mehlman had already met with Obama over lunch at the White House and told him that people voted for him in 2008 because they viewed him as an idealist who would put politics aside and do what was right. Endorsing same-sex marriage would remind voters that he was still that man. ‘The notion that politically this is going to kill you – I don’t buy it,’ Mehlman recalled saying.

“Some of Obama’s top advisers urged him to take Biden to task for forcing his hand … The first lady saw the whole thing as a blessing in disguise. The endless debate was over. You don’t have to dance around this issue anymore, she told her husband over breakfast, … in a conversation she relayed afterward to several top White House officials. ‘Enjoy this day,’ she said as he headed off for his interview [with ABC’s Robin Roberts]. ‘You are free.’ …

“In the months after the announcement , the coalition that Obama needed to win a second term did not crumble. To the campaign’s surprise, Election Day exit polls showed that endorsing same-sex marriage did not hurt him among key constituencies – Catholics and Latinos, for instance, supported it. And the backing motivated Obama’s progressive base, including voters ages 18 to 30, who broke decisively his way. In addition, voters in three states for the first time approved ballot measures legalizing same-sex marriage, while those in a fourth voted down a ban. Mehlman was correct in predicting that it would do little to drive Republican turnout. As Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director at the time, put it: ‘It was the bomb that didn’t go off.'” http://goo.gl/rjR2qj .

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