Obama wants to target Mitt Romney but suddenly finds himself playing defense on marriage equality, a social issue that poses a political triple threat: Embracing it risks alienating religiously conservative independents, blacks and Latinos in swing states. Delaying or opposing it ticks off gay Democratic donors and young voters who overwhelmingly support it.
But the third and middle path adopted by the president
and his advisers — interpreted by many gay and lesbian supporters as an
election-year expedient that puts him to the right of his own party —
could undermine Obama’s 2012 message that he’s still a new-breed leader
willing to brave political peril for principle.