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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Politics, Society | 9 comments

Is Barack Obama Poised to Announce that He Supports Gay Marriage Soon? (UPDATED)

Is President Barack Obama about to announce his support of gay marriage? Speculation is increasing on some of the cable networks that he will — and very soon. On MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell show, talking heads including Time’s Mark Halerpin predicted Obama will announce his support and let the political chips fall where they may.

Four reasons why some think this will happen 1)the clamor for Obama coming out in support of it has increased with Vice President Joe Biden’s statements and rumblings from the Democratic Party’s base and some contributors 2)Obama is heading to Hollywood soon 3) he has all but come out in favor of it and many believe that is where his heart lies and, 4) an interview he’s doing that is unlikely to produce him repeating his past stand but either coming out in favor of it or falling just short (which will keep controversy within his own party alive):

President Obama, who is under mounting pressure to clarify his thinking on same-sex marriage after top aides publicly embraced it in recent days, will sit down for an interview with ABC News on Wednesday during which he is likely to be pressed on his “evolving” views on the issue, according to people familiar with the matter.

The interview, to be conducted by Robin Roberts, an anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and was secured in the wake of a declaration by Mr. Obama’s vice president, Joseph R. Biden, on Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages.

The White House and the president’s re-election campaign declined to comment on Wednesday.

Since Mr. Biden made his comments, Mr. Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, said that he, too, backs same-sex marriage, becoming the third top White House official to do so. His secretary of housing, Shaun Donovan, has previously expressed support for same-sex weddings.

That has put Mr. Obama in an increasingly awkward position, which was highlighted by a series of news conferences with his press secretary, Jay Carney, who has fielded dozens of questions about where the president stands on same-sex marriage since Sunday. Mr. Carney has suggested that Mr. Obama was likely to clarify his position at a news conference or during an interview.

The sudden booking suggests an interest on the part of the White House to get Mr. Obama in front of cameras, albeit in a carefully controlled interview setting, as soon as possible.

If Obama does make a strong statement of support, this would inject the issue into the 2012 Presidential election campaign. It could motivate the bases of both parties to get out and vote.

Polls find Americans split on the issue:

Which more accurately gauges where the majority of Americans stand?

The answer, polls suggests, depends a great deal on where in the country you’re asking that question.

Nationally, roughly half of all Americans say they support allowing same-sex couples to marry. A newly released Gallup poll puts the split at 50% in favor, 48% opposed. A Pew Research Center poll released two weeks ago had a similar 47%-43% division.

Both of those national surveys, as well as polls done by other organizations, reflect a sharp jump in recent years in support for same-sex marriage. In 2004, for example, Pew found Americans opposed gay marriage by a nearly 2-1 margin. Such a large and sudden shift in public opinion on a fundamental issue of social policy is extremely rare and reflects two trends that have overlapped — younger Americans are far more supportive of same-sex marriage than their elders, and middle-aged Americans have shifted their views.

But the shift has not happened evenly across the country. The sharpest divide involves religious observance. People who attend religious services weekly or more often continue to oppose same-sex marriage by about 2 to 1, according to Gallup’s most recent poll. By contrast, people who seldom or never attend religious services support marriage equality by 2 to 1. Protestants are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than Catholics.

Not surprisingly, then, states that have large percentages of Protestant residents who attend church regularly — in the South, for example — remain strongly resistant to changing marriage laws. By contrast, states with large secular populations have been most receptive to gay marriage.

It’ll be one more polarizing issue in what is shaping up as a highly polarizing election.

If Obama (as increasingly expected) makes the leap…

UPDATE: Buzzfeed offers this Obama gay marriage timeline.

UPDATE II: Halperin predicting Obama will:

The Huffington Post:

President Obama is expected to address gay marriage in an exclusive ABC News interview with Robin Roberts on Wednesday.

Roberts plans to ask Obama about his position on the issue, ABC sources told The Huffington Post. The interview was quickly arranged on Tuesday, with Roberts leaving after Wednesday’s “Good Morning America” for the 1:30 pm White House sit-down. It is expected to last twenty minutes.

A portion of the interview will be aired on “ABC World News” on Wednesday, but the network will announce any headlines made by the president immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney has been grilled for two days over President Obama’s “evolving” position on same sex marriage following Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” that he was “absolutely comfortable” with two men or two women marrying and have the same rights as heterosexual spouses.

The White House announced at noon that there would be no White House briefing on Wednesday, only adding to the speculation that Obama would make news on the subject.