When President Obama announced to Robin Roberts of ABC News that his position on marriage equality had finally “evolved” to the point that he now supports it, Obama made history, again.

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts making him the first sitting American president to occupy that position.

I heard a quote bandied about the day of his somewhat anticlimactic revelation to Roberts attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice,” King said.

I’m just not convinced enough Americans have traveled the moral arc that has led the president to his evolved view.

Thirty-two states have taken up the issue of marriage equality and 32 states have rejected it. The General Assembly of my home state of Maryland passed a marriage equality law a couple of months ago and when the measure is put to statewide referendum this fall Maryland will probably become the 33rd state to reject it.

Obama may be on the right side of history and his public pronouncement may have been the right thing to do, but there’s a political calculus here that may not add up for the president and his supporters.

The vast majority of people who are going to vote for Obama and the vast majority of people who are going to vote for Romney will not be swayed significantly by the president’s declaration on gay marriage.

But, this election won’t be decided by wide swaths of voters; it will be decided in the margins and on the fringes.

Will some social conservatives – who generally loathe Mitt Romney – become emboldened by Obama’s evolution and actually vote for Romney in November?

The vast majority of Hispanics – who overwhelmingly support Obama over Romney – are Catholic and many of them are devout. How will Obama’s stance on marriage equality impact their support of him?
What about Black people?

Since his stunning victory in Iowa in 2008, Barack Obama’s support in the Black community has hovered at about 90 percent. Obama’s embrace of marriage equality will do little to erode that core support significantly.

According to Pew Research Center data Black American opposition to marriage equality has diminished significantly since 2004. According to Pew, 43 percent of Blacks were strongly opposed to gay marriage in 2004. That opposition dropped to 37 percent in 2008 and dipped even more drastically in April 2012 to just 27 percent.

But, there is a segment of Black America – probably a small segment – that will take the immutable view that the president’s position has created a choice for them between him and God. Those people will chose God.

But, will they chose Romney? Doubtful; they’ll just stay home in November.
By every viable metric this election is going to be extremely close; probably within a couple of points and perhaps three million votes or less. The tipping point in November will be in the margins, the shadowy places where political hatchet men dance with delight.

In 2004, I covered the Presidential General Election from ground zero, Cleveland, Ohio and I spent time with one of the craftiest and well-connected Democratic operatives in the state a woman named Linnie Powell.

On Election Day I sat with Powell at Lancer’s steakhouse in Cleveland – one of the hubs for the city’s Black politicos for decades – where I watched her zealously work the phone and count votes. It was apparent early on that it would be a long night for the Dems.

John Kerry went on to lose Ohio by less than 120,000 votes and subsequently the presidency and Powell broke it down for me in no uncertain terms why he lost Ohio.
She told me that Kerry traveled to Ohio about 30 times during the course of his campaign but, he allegedly only sat down with the Black clergy of that state less than a handful of times.

Enter the man George W. Bush dubbed “turd blossom” the diabolical Karl Rove.
In 2004, Rove went around the country to several battleground states including Ohio and wielded the issue of gay marriage as a wedge and a club and he went in on Black clergy specifically with great ferocity.

Those Black preachers that John Kerry didn’t show no love to in Ohio? Rove picked a whole gang of them off like he was Fillmore Slim in his notorious prime.

Bush won 11 percent of the Black vote that year nationally, however the Black vote for Bush in Ohio increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2004. In the wake of Obama’s support for marriage equality and the inevitable “Rovian” machinations to follow what will be the over under for Black votes in November?

However, it’s hard to bet against Obama. As I alluded to before, he plays the political game with the elan of Magic Johnson and the grit of Jack Johnson. And the president’s main man in Chicago David Axelrod is perhaps the most formidable political strategist in America.

Ultimately, Obama’s historic presidency is the result of a huge gamble on his part.

And perhaps his two greatest triumphs as president so far; the bailout of the auto industry and the killing of Osama bin Laden are the results of two titanic gambles. Whenever Obama bets big he seems to win big.

Now, he’s going big once again and the outcome of his brave bet this time may hinge on the support of his most loyal constituency; Black America.

But, he may have miscalculated, I hope I’m wrong.
I hope he wins big…again.


Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor