Could president’s gay marriage stance change the outcome of the - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Could president’s gay marriage stance change the outcome of the election?

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(05/15/12) - The political world is still buzzing after President Obama publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage last week. His campaign has raised tens of millions of dollars since the news broke, but not everyone thinks his stance is going to help him in the long-run.

While the economy is the number one issue on the minds of voters right now, and as much as the candidates say that's what they want to focus on, the gay marriage issue keeps coming up.

"Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," said Republican candidate Mitt Romney at a college graduation over the weekend.

Romney's comments came just days after President Obama made this announcement: "It's important for me to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couple should be able to get married."

"I think politically it was a mistake," said Brian Darling, a senior fellow of government studies at the conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation.

Darling says while recent polls show a majority of Americans now support gay marriage, the results at the ballot box reveal a different outcome. Thirty-one states – including Michigan -- have amended their constitutions defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Gay marriage is also banned in important swing states like Ohio and Florida.

"In Ohio and Florida, the gay marriage issue could be the deciding factor in the election because it's going to be so close," explained Darling. "You're going to have a very motivated group of social conservatives in states that are swing states that are going to make it very difficult for Barack Obama to win."

And then there are the all-important independent voters, who helped elect the president in 2008.

"If you look at independents, they have not voted in favor of gay marriage, and they're not polling in favor of gay marriage," Darling said.

The president's supporters still think he made the right move.

"I think it was a matter of conscience. He talked it over with his wife and his children, and I know because I have talked to him over the years. It's a difficult issue, a real challenging issue," said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

So why would the president make an announcement like this if it could hurt his chances for re-election? Darling thinks the president had already believed in gay marriage because of his repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

We should also mention Mitt Romney supports a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

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