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President Barack Obama, speaking here in the Rose Garden of the White House on Thursday, March 29, 2012, is caught in an election bind on gay marriage, wedged between the pressure of supporters who want him to back same-sex marriage and the political peril of igniting an explosive social issue at the onset of his reelection campaign. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Barack Obama has arguably done more than any other president for the gay community. He was proactive on repealing prohibitions on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces, and last year his administration announced it wouldn’t defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning the recognition of same-sex marriages. These actions make his reluctance to lead on marriage equality and an executive order on workplace protections for gay and transgender Americans all the more frustrating for activists. Pollsters think he’s worried what voters will think if he comes out fully in support of marriage equality, but it’s questionable whether this would really hurt his re-election chances.

Marriage equality reappeared last weekend (did it ever go away?) after Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he supported gay marriage. “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual—men and women marrying—are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments were followed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan stating on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he supported gay marriage.

Yet another political backdrop to all this palaver over gay marriage is today’s (Tuesday’s) ballot initiative in North Carolina that could ban gay marriage in the Tar Heel state. President Obama opposes the initiative, arguing it’s unfair to enact state constitutional provisions that enshrine discrimination into law. Still, the president has avoided offering a full-throated support of gay marriage.

Would it threaten Obama’s re-election if he did so? (more…)

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer points her finger in the face of President Barack Obama during an intense conversation on January 25, 2012, at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

With a waggle of her right index finger last Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer erased the question of whether black voters will be enthusiastic about going to the polls in support of President Barack Obama. Now, you can count on it.

Gov. Brewer almost guaranteed that large numbers of black voters will turn out on Election Day because they will march to the polls, still angry about Brewer’s one-finger salute of the commander-in-chief. Nothing motivates voters like anger. So I envision their collective disgust to register in a wave of ballots, striking back at what so many perceive as the ultimate disrespect of the nation’s first black president.

This isn’t a bold prediction. Rather, it’s more of a reasonable assessment of what I’m hearing and reading about the durability of the anger over the now-infamous tarmac photo. (more…)

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