Is Obama Courting Black Voters with ‘Evolving’ View of Gay Marriage?

Socially conservative Black voters are being cited as one reason President Obama hasn't come out in support of same-sex marriage.

Some think the president may be courting Black voters with his "evolving" view on same-sex marriage. (Newscom Photo)

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 Jack & Jill Politics. 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?

About the author, Christine A. Scheller

Christine A. Scheller is a widely published journalist and essayist, and an editor-at-large at UrbanFaith. She lives with her husband at the Jersey Shore and in Washington, DC, where she helps facilitate dialogue between scientific and religious communities.
  1. I don’t think it’ll cost him votes with many black voters. It may cost him some votes with evangelicals of all races that voted for him the first time that just can’t get past this issue.

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will cost him many black votes, conservative or otherwise. He has already said explicitly that he favors homosexual ‘civil unions’, and he has also joined former President Clinton in opposing the NC constitutional amendment (amendment One) specifically defining legal marriage in NC as between one man and one woman. Furthermore, he officially withdrew the federal government’s support and defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) awhile ago. Despite the media’s word games, I think at this point it’s fairly clear that the president is favorable towards legal homosexual marriage. Given all this, it hasn’t been evidenced that many black pastors have withdrawn their support of him either as the current president, or as a presidentail candidate. But i think it’s also true that sometimes our community kind of goes undercover on issues; we don’t necessarily get vocal and visible with our opinions, but when it matters, our views become known. So, despite no loud opposition to his views now, there could be a surprise in November. Either way, it certainly will be worth watching.

  3. Well, the President has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. It was obvious what he was going to do. He was waiting for the “right” time to do so. His hand may have been forced by Vice-President Biden and from what I’ve read so far, voices from the left (Super-PAC donors) who were threatening to withhold financial support from him if he didn’t come out in support of same-sex marriage..

    Will it cost Presdent Obama votes from socially conservative Blacks? Maybe. I find it hard to believe these same voters will go to Mitt Romney. They’ll just sit it out, if anything.

    For me, it’s a sad day. The Scriptures are clear on God’s stance concerning this issue. For a man who has confessed Jesus as his Savior, he is currently not following Him as his Lord, at least as far as this issue is concerned.

    This nation is becoming increasingly hostile to Biblical values and lines are being drawn, this being one of them. We are having to decide whether to stand with our Lord or with the world. It’s time to stand for the truth!

    • I have lost all enthusiasm about Obama. He needs spiritual help and divine intervention in his life. It is clear he is not a mature practicing Christian believer. I cannot with a clear conscience vote for him or the other party.

      • you are not going to vote for obama becase of what he did ! Stop and think if every black person did that they would give the presidency to mitt romney, then were do you think that would put this country in the hands of the republican party who will destory all ths good things that have been done for the the young people, the seniors, the medicade system that so many people depend on don’t let your folish pride get in the way. I am a very prode christian who belives that marrage between a man and a woman is right but what about olman how many wives did he have, or how many wives did other reglish leaders have back then, If it is wrong it is not for you or any body else to judge, leave that to GOD HE WILL JUDGE those who of the same sex that marry not you or any other person on this earth. This a constitutional thing not any thing for you or any body else to worry about these people only want equeal justice any fair treatment. So lets give it to them remember they are GODS Children to.

  4. I have lost all enthusiasm regarding Obama. He is not a practicing Christian. No wonder nothing has improved. A good leader needs divine intervention and it is obvious this is not the route he is taking.

    • Rev. Jackson? Rev. Jesse Jackson? Can’t be!!! If so, what type of Christianity were you practicing when you fathered a child out of wedlock? Was that divine intervention? and was the adultry the route to Christianity at that time? Visit your Bible with yourself in mind.

  5. I am just as proud of President Obama today, as I was on “Election Day” 2008. He lives is faith and demonstrates his understanding of the Constitution of this great country with boldness and courage. By stating that he supports “same-sex” marriage the President gave hope to hundreds of black same gender loving families that are embattled with issues because they are black and same gender loving. President Obama is a self identified Christian just as the rest of us who identify with Christ, so let’s not cry “heretic”. His position on supporting “civil rights” for lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders who by the way are American citizens have not changed they have just been clarified! Black folks need not be upset with him especially “churched” black folks because most black churches operate under the out-dated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy while knowinly supporting the ministries of closeted bishops, pastors, musicians, singers and others. “Watchout out for those dogs” (Philippians 3:2)…the opposition will attempt to turn this into a bigger issue than the injustices of “voter supression” laws, decrease of funding for programs for low-income, tax-breaks for the wealthy, and lay-offs for the middle class. Justice,mercy and faith still remain as the weighter matters…(Matthew 23:23) November 6, 2012 is closer than you think. In most states you must be registered to vote 30-60 days before the election, bring photo identifcation to the polling station and proof of residency. Let’s not get caught up, let’s get fired up….register…register others…go VOTE…FORWARD with OBAMA!

    • Pastor Jones, I’m just curious. Does the Constitution trump Biblical authority?

      • Mr. Sutton, what IS Biblical authority? Even if one is a fundamentalist who believes that every word and letter in scripture is to be taken literally, there is still much debate about what the Bible actually teachs about homosexuality, and if one does take such a view of scripture, why are not people who wear clothes made of blended materials or people who eat shell fish not also condemned.It is the Christian Conservatives who should explain why the persecute Gays, but do not condemn the divorced or non-married heterosexuals in their pews. Many churches are already moving to what is, in my opinion, a Christ-centered understanding of homosexuality. For Christ it was apparently a non-issue. He never mentioned it. However, back to the point of whether the Constitution trumps Biblical “authority,” that should not be the question. Rather, the quesiton should be, does the President of the United States follow the Constitution or the Bible. In his personal life that is up to him. In his role as President, it MUST be the Consitution. The United States of America is not a theocracy, but a democracy, and in THIS democracy the majority rules, but the minority has rights that even a huge majority MUST not trample no matter how large that majority happens to be. Otherwise, we end up with situations like Jim Crow or worse, slavery.

      • The Bible and the Constitution are not hearts and spades in a card game, therefore there is no need to call a trump. The point is faith informs one to interpet and implement constitutional rights. Marriage is civil and it is holy thus one must be knowledgeable of both. Selah…

        • Let me explain my position and question a little better. I know that this is not a card game! I’m asking Who or what carries the greatest authority, God’s stance or the Constitution? If God has deemed homosexuality sin, then who are we to try and find justification in the Constitution to make gay marriage legal? We can pass laws here to make it acceptable in our society, but the stink of it will remain with the sinner just like any other sin! It will also be something that comes into judgment. We’ve determined in our society that pornography is a constitutional right, but it’s not acceptable to God and will be judged along with those who practice the use of it. Our o.k. on something doesn’t mean that God approves of it. This is something I’m sure you’re aware of Pastor Johnson.

      • Considering that this is a country run by a secular government? Yes. Yes it does.
        And when you say “Biblical Authority” are you talking about the Old Testament that condemns homosexuality (as well as other things that good Christians CONTINUE to do in present day….I’m sure you’ve done a few things outlawed in Leviticus….)?

  6. First of all, no one is advocating going back to Old Testament practices. The New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Covenant. The Scriptures make it clear that Christ fulfilled the Law so there’s no need to follow the letter of the Law. Secondly, standing on the Scripture’s stance concerning homosexuality does not mean that you’re “persecuting” gays. To stand against theft doesn’t equate to persecuting thieves. Also, no one is condemning gays. Sin is just being pointed out. Homosexuality is sin, sex outside marriage by heterosexuals is sin, and divorce (save for the cause of fornication) is sin. All of these sins can be forgiven as a result of repentance to God and faith in Jesus Christ.

    When speaking concerning Christ’s stance on homosexuality you err not understanding the Scriptures. Christ came to fulfill the will of the Father and the things prophesied concerning Him in the Old Testament Scriptures. He said that I only do what I see my Father do and I say what my Father commands me to say. Since God the Father already spoke on homosexuality why would His Son need to speak again concerning it? Jesus said He didn’t come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Jesus endorsed every word of the Old Testament. Also, the New Testament Scriptures classified homosexuality as sin. The Apostles, inspired by the Holy Ghost given to them by Jesus Christ, wrote those very Scriptures which call homosexuality sin. By the way, what is a “Christ-centered” understanding of homosexuality?

    As far as the President following the Constitution you are right. But also understand that all authority ultimately comes from God and when a government chooses to disobey God’s word then judgment is pending for that nation. Folks think Bible-believing Christians want to institute a theocracy. This is not true. We speak out to caution and to warn of God’s pending judgment if we, as a nation, continue to treat His word as a bunch of suggestions. I love this nation and its Constitution and I want the Constitution to stand. I just know there’s a Greater Authority we all will answer to one day and we will not have the Constitution to hide behind!

  7. Three truths the president proved by embracing gay marriage #1 He is a skilled politician
    2.He understands the fine art of appeasement. 3# Never underestimate what politician will do to get elected.

  8. Another reason why I well not vote for the president again. I’m casting my vote for a third party candidate. His numbers with black UNEMPLOYED voters will be lower than in 2008.

  9. Unlike the Laws of man, God’s Law is not relative to circumstances as any well-read Christian should know. Situational Ethics is the new game in town and it will be the ultimate ruin of this nation including Black America if we are not careful. The Bible is very clear regarding Homosexuality. God does NOT accept it in any form but we have allowed a relative small but very loud group within the population to intimidate and bully their way onto center stage where they have managed to force cowardly Politicians, Judges and a number of Clergy to accept their agenda contrary to the Laws of God and for this, there is a price that must be paid at some point.
    America is not the first society to acquiesces to a counterculture that goes against everything we have stood for. Every society must have a set of Laws that are non-negotiable in order to function. There must be a moral compass in place in order that we can know right from wrong and in this case, its the Bible. Mans Laws are primarily based on the Ten Commandments. We know that Murder, Adultery, Lying and other acts are wrong and that there are consequences if we commit those acts. The Bible ALSO explains God’s view of Homosexuality so that there can be no confusion yet it is also true that Man will rationalize in his heart, for whatever reason, that which he desires to do regardless of the Word of God.
    Black people voted in droves in 2008 for the first time in a longtime but….we did it because Obama is black and NOT because of his agenda. Now he has come out with a statement that defies the very God that many of us worship so what are we to do? Are we to support the President regardless and go along with his statement on same-sex marriage and simply accept it has he has done or are we to stand for the Word of God? We simply can not have it BOTH ways. Using such analogy as “God will understand” wont cut it when we have to stand before our maker and give an account of ourselves.