President Obama's Gay Marriage Goof

Maggie Gallagher

5/17/2012 10:35:00 AM - Maggie Gallagher

Just how bad a blunder was President Obama's forced gay marriage endorsement?

Item: Manny Pacquiao, the world's greatest boxer, just came out against gay marriage. He now faces a nasty public campaign to vilify him, including false claims he advocated violence against gay people -- something both Pacquiao and the reporter who interviewed him deny.

A shopping mall owner in Los Angeles has just banned Manny Pacquiao: "He is not welcome at The Grove. ... The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelinos and not a place for intolerance."

Pacquiao is Filipino and a beloved icon to the Latino community and its many boxing fans, among others. How will Hispanic voters respond to the smearing of a popular sports hero as a bigot because he disagrees with Obama on marriage?

Item: Tomorrow in Memphis, a group of major civil rights leaders who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. will meet to release a statement pushing back against Obama's description of gay marriage as a civil right.

"We will be spending the next weeks and months visiting black churches, asking for support from pastors and their flocks. ... We ask President Obama to stand with the black church, on the word of God and evolve again back to the common-sense Biblical view that marriage is the union of husband and wife," said the Rev. William Owens, who marched with King and helped organize the civil rights movement in Nashville.

Item: Today, a Rasmussen poll in North Carolina shows Romney rocketing to the lead over Obama, 51 percent to 43 percent, which is a complete reversal from the last poll that had Obama and Romney statistically tied at 44 percent to 46 percent.

Obama carried North Carolina in 2008 by just 14,000 votes by earning 95 percent of the black vote there.

The sudden drop in Obama's standing in North Carolina is just one of many evidences that Obama made a serious error endorsing gay marriage.

The polling on gay marriage is now wildly off the mark, as even Democratic polling firm PPP admitted on Twitter the night the people of North Carolina rejected gay marriage 61 to 39 percent:

"Hate to say it, but I don't believe polls showing majority support for gay marriage nationally. Any time there's a vote it doesn't back it up."

Polls are just static snapshots. Obama's gay marriage endorsement changed the political dynamic in ways that will hurt him in at least three ways:

1. Obama consolidated Mitt Romney's base.

In a poll taken by PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey from May 2 to May 6, white evangelicals backed Romney by only 68 percent to 19 percent -- well under the 79 percent support they gave George W. Bush's winning campaign in 2004.

Now? Well, the numbers aren't crunched yet but take this as a leading indicator: Robert Jeffress, the Dallas Baptist minister who called Mormonism a cult at last year's Values Voter Summit, just endorsed Romney: "Given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces very unbiblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who supports biblical values like the sanctity of life and marriage, I think there's a good biblical case for voting for Mitt Romney," Jeffress said.

2. Obama turned off independents.

A whopping 40 percent of voters told Gallup that Obama's endorsement of gay marriage would affect their vote, and among independents -- by a 2 to 1 margin -- it made voters less likely to vote for him.

3. Obama may have put his own black and Latino base into play.

Pastor Emmett Burns (a delegate to the Maryland Assembly) was very upset: "He has said to his base, African-Americans, 'I am going against your beliefs and your thoughts,'" Burns told the media. He now says he will no longer support the president and predicts Obama will lose in November.

How many Pastor Burnses are out there? We do not yet know.

Here's the biggest change: Obama, by endorsing gay marriage, has broken through the media silence imposed on those who oppose gay marriage, generating new, unexpected and highly visible expressions of opposition.

All of a sudden, pastors across America are preaching against gay marriage. Conservative talk radio shows are addressing it. People are hearing that their friends and neighbors disapprove.

A new dynamic is in play, set in motion by Obama's misjudgment: He believed the pundits and chose the money over the voters.

That's almost always a bad bet for a president. In November, unless he evolves again, he will find out just how bad a bet that was.