Tipped as the most friendly gay president in recent American history, President Barack Obama had a lot to live up to. He’s bought forward a number of policies that encourage equality, some big successes for the gay and lesbian community. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal for one, same benefits for gay and lesbian partners of federal employees for another. Visitation and next of kin rights in hospitals another step forward. Yes, Obama has done a fair amount for gay people. He’s also been vocal in support for the fight against gay bullying as well as a commitment to equality. However, that’s about all we can hope for, at least for now.
Gay Marriage - well that’s not going to be up for discussion in the Obama camp, calls to the White House to back gay marriage and strengthen federal anti-discrimination protection will almost certainly go unanswered as we go forward in the run up to the next Presidential election.
“Of course he’ll back off support of gay issues” Claimed gay rights commentator Jason Shaw today. “He wants to be re-elected, he wants to get the largest share of the votes, which means pleasing more people that he upsets. America is very much a divided nation, there is a clear line of those who support equality and those that will do there upper most to take it away”
John Zogby, boss of a pollster group said, "The conundrum Obama faces is keeping this essential core constituency while not going overboard and alienating the high-intensity opponents of that constituency," Adding "His challenge is to continue to play it cool and not to go overboard."
According to recent research, American independent voters and often less likely to back gay causes and issues, yet it is independent voters who are going to be crucial in the winning of closely contested states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin.
The US economy is still in trouble, albeit better than it was, Obama has risen the reputation of America around the world back up, to it’s pre-Bush levels. Today’s announcement on force numbers in Afghanistan all push forward to make this coming election a much tighter race than ever before. For this reason, Obama will want to keep key voting groups on board.
Let’s go back to 2008, evangelicals mostly vote Republican, however 2008 saw Obama take 30 per cent of their votes. African Americans voted 95 per cent for Obama in 2008, yet recently we’ve seen many from that community confirm their discriminatory and homophobic tendencies and beliefs. “One would have thought the African American community would recognize how hard the struggle for equality and the battle to be recognized and accepted is. But no, homophobia is high from within that community” Shaw added. “Too much suppose or pushing for equality or gay and lesbian people, may loose Obama some of their support”
Of course some may state that with his movement in support of gay issues, Obama can rely on the gay vote. Yes this is a possibility, the alternative of a republican administration is positively frightening, but the gay community, is not that large, maybe 4 per cent of the voting population. According to figures at the time, it’s reported that 70 per cent of gay, lesbian and bisexual voters did so for Obama. However, a lot of people in America and still afraid of commenting openly about their sexuality.
Professor Graham Wilson of Boston University political science department, recently said would seek to keep his gay constituencies sweet as they have high incomes which make them a very strong fundraising group. "So long as Obama maintains his reasonably OK record on gay issues and Republicans continue to be identified with fairly aggressive anti-gay sentiments, there is not much doubt as to where the gay vote goes,"
As we said earlier, many from the gay community heap a whole ton of praise on Obama for ending the "don’t ask don’t tell" and a little more recently for instructing the Justice Department to stop defending a law banning federal recognition of same-sex unions. However, a whole load more are pretty annoyed to say the least that he hasn’t moved forward and backed gay marriage. Sure he may say his position on such this is "evolving" but that cuts no ice with anyone, it is actions that speak louder than words.
"So far it’s a mixed bag," Richard Socarides, head of the national gay-rights group Equality Matters told reporters recently – "People believe his heart is in the right place. He’s especially attractive when you consider the alternative,"