Obama lying low on gay rights, but happy to let aides speak up

But he is reluctant in an election year to be drawn into a culture-war issue — one that reliably helps Republicans turn out evangelical voters in their favor and that also strikes a particular nerve with religious black voters, a bedrock Obama constituency in battleground states like North Carolina and Florida.

There is little indication that Mr. Obama plans to endorse same-sex marriage before the presidential election in November, despite recent statements that tiptoe right up to that position. Speaking to a gay-rights group in October, he said, “Every single American — gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender — every single American deserves to be treated equally before the law.”

But in the absence of that symbolic step, the White House wants gay people to know that it stands with them. It is publicizing initiatives like the State Department’s campaign against persecution overseas and a government conference on the problems faced by older gay people.