Barney Frank told the panel on ABC’s This Week that “I don’t think anyone’s vote was changed” when Barack Obama endorsed the legalization of same-sex marriage — but that might be too optimistic an analysis. The New York Times reports that the White House went on a charm offensive with leaders of faith organizations, including and perhaps especially African-American churches where opposition to gay marriage runs high. So far, the charm offensive has had mixed results:
About two hours after declaring his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama gathered eight or so African-American ministers on a conference call to explain himself. He had struggled with the decision, he said, but had come to believe it was the right one.
The ministers, though, were not all as enthusiastic. A vocal few made it clear that the president’s stand on gay marriage might make it difficult for them to support his re-election. …
In the end, Mr. Coates, who supports civil marriages for gay men and lesbians, said that most of the pastors, regardless of their views on this issue, agreed to “work aggressively” on behalf of the president’s campaign. But not everyone. “Gay marriage is contrary to their understanding of Scripture,” Mr. Coates said. “There are people who are really wrestling with this.”
This was the danger of going on the record, a danger Obama’s allies on the Left apparently discounted. Obama drove turnout in 2008 in part through the enthusiastic participation of these very same churches. Having now sided with the people who call these black pastors and congregations “bigots,” especially in North Carolina where two-thirds of black voters supported Amendment One, Obama is not at risk of having them flip to Mitt Romney — but he does risk losing that enthusiasm, fundraising, and organization.
It’s not just about the policy itself, either. The churches now wonder whether Obama will back efforts to force churches to perform same-sex marriages, a topic which one religious leader broached with the President during one of the calls:
“Some of the faith communities are going to be afraid that this is an attack against religious liberty,” Mr. Hunter remembered telling the president.
“Absolutely not,” Mr. Obama insisted. “That’s not where we’re going, and that’s not what I want.”
Really? The Obama administration’s track record on religious freedom singularly argues otherwise. Most recently, the White House stabbed their allies in health-care reform in the Catholic Church in the back by using the ObamaCare law that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops supported to create a mandate that requires church organizations to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. Even more to the point, the Obama administration tried to apply the ADA to force a church to rehire a minister they’d terminated, an attempt that got a 9-0 rebuke from the Supreme Court.
The only time this President is solicitous of religious freedom and principles is when he’s trying to cover his own rear end.
On the other hand, Obama’s declaration has resulted in a lot of enthusiasm at churches … for Romney, as Andrew Malcolm explains:
Near the end of the competitive part of the recent Republican presidential primary season, Gov. Mitt Romney began showing growing support among evangelical voters. The Mormon had been losing that influential portion of the GOP base by lopsided proportions. Not anymore.
Thank you, Barack Obama. …
In a major examination of evangelical support for Romney the Deseret News Sunday quoted several Southern academics. Dave Woodard of Clemson University called Obama’s carefully-staged statement a gift for Romney highlighting his candidacy’s uniqueness in supporting traditional marriage.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s sealed the deal,” with most evangelical voters, Woodard told the paper. “I think he can make up for any other problems he has with them with just this one issue.”
Woodard added: “There is beginning to be some genuine enthusiasm for Mitt Romney. They’re not just going to talk about his Sunday morning activities. He has the convictions on the issues they like.”
Newsweek may have crowned Obama with a secular halo this weekend, but he’s not getting hosannas from the churches — and that might be all it takes to send Obama into retirement in January 2013.