By Perry Bacon Jr.

Twice this week, President Obama suggested that he might become the first sitting U.S. president to support gay marriage. He said his views on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry are "evolving" and added that, although he is a longtime supporter of civil unions, "I recognize that from their perspective, it is not enough."

But none of this means that the White House is about to launch a national legalize-gay-marriage campaign.

First of all, marriage laws are largely written by individual states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont allow gay marriage, as does the District).


Second, any attempt by the administration to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act โ€” which Obama told the gay and lesbian magazine the Advocate he would like to do โ€” would face strong opposition that will only intensify when Republicans take over the House of Representatives in January.

With the electorate overwhelmingly concerned with job growth and economic issues, it seems likely that Obama would focus on gay marriage only if he wins re-election in 2012. During a second term, he could ostensibly pursue the issue with far less political risk.


Throughout his 2008 campaign and the start of his administration, Obama insisted marriage should be limited to the union of a man and a woman; most major politicians in both parties share that stance.

Read the rest of this article at the Washington Post.