One Equal World

Jo Becker’s New Book Reveals How Obama Got On Board with Marriage Equality

Posted on: April 25, 2014

The fight for marriage equality continues to wage on in America, where in recent years, same-sex equality initiatives have gained significant momentum. Nothing proves how much headway marriage equality has made on a political scale than investigative journalist Jo Becker’s new book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” due out later this month. In anticipation of the book’s release, an excerpt from “Forcing the Spring” was published in The New York Times, which offered some revealing insights as to how President Obama came to support marriage equality for all.forcing-the-spring-jo-becker

According to the New Yorker, in the book, “Becker makes it clear that both Obama and his team were deeply conflicted about whether he should announce his support for gay marriage before the 2012 election, to the point where its unresolved, internal debate had resulted in a kind of paralysis,” illustrating the politically-charged implications of supporting marriage equality. Despite Obama’s personal beliefs on the matter, “his political advisers were worried that his endorsement could splinter the coalition needed to win a second term,” Becker writes.

Becker calls Obama’s eventual public backing of marriage equality a “carefully calibrated and incremental endorsement,” pointing to the high political stakes as being contributing factors in his delay in coming out in support of same-sex marriage. Despite the supposed controversy that surrounded this hot-button issue prior to the 2012 election, some members of the GOP, namely political strategist Ken Mehlman, were confident that coming out in support of same-sex marriage would solidify Obama’s chances of winning reelection. According to The Hill, “Mehlman, who managed George W. Bush’s reelection campaign and came out as gay in 2010, told Obama that the American public viewed him as an idealist willing to put politics aside, and that endorsing same-sex marriage would reinforce that image.”

Mehlman, a highly respected political authority “surveyed 5,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and found that a majority supported some form of legal recognition of gay relationships,” details Becker in “Forcing the Spring.” She continues to elaborate, “Generally, marriage was not a top priority for most Republicans, meaning that a presidential endorsement was unlikely to motivate the G.O.P. base or attract the kind of full-throated Republican criticism it might have in years past.” Mehlman, along with Chad Griffin and other political, progressive-minded advocates, saw this as the perfect window of opportunity for Obama to stand up in support of marriage equality, with only a small change for political backlash.

Learn more about “Forcing the Spring” and “How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage” in Becker’s excerpted column in The New York Times.


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