Obama courts LGBT vote

The president has launched a new website and video touting his "evolution" on gay marriage

Topics: 2012 Elections, Barack Obama,

After a long “evolution” on marriage equality, the Obama campaign is moving to take full ownership over LGBT rights as a political issue today, rolling out a new website and video narrated by Glee’s Jane Lynch.

Lynch, who married her partner in 2010 after New York legalized same-sex marriage, praises Obama in the video, calling him “a leader who not only acknowledged the LGBT community, but who embraced us.” Lynch ticks off a series of Obama’s accomplishments, saying the president has made “more significant advances on LGBT issues than other president that came before him.”

But on a conference call this morning, campaign officials said the website, called “Obama Pride,” is as much about touting the president’s advances on LGBT rights as it is a means to organize and engage with the LGBT community. “We will run robust LGBT Vote programming to turn out LGBT voters this November,” said National LGBT vote director Jamie Citron.

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The five-minute video also features new interview-style footage of Obama, who explains how his view on marriage has changed over time and notes that “we’ve seen a profound cultural shift just over the past decade,”

Indeed, the roll out — timed to coincide with Harvey Milk Day — comes as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds opposition to gay marriage at all time low in the wake of Obama’s announcement.

That puts Obama on the right side of history, the campaign said. “[Mitt] Romney’s position on same-sex marriage is also historic but not in the way it should be,” said Obama co-chair Joe Solmonese, the outgoing president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Coalition, who noted that Romney has pledged to push for an anti-marriage equality amendment.

While the marriage reversal carries major political risks, the aggressive PR effort from the deliberate Obama campaign suggests they feel confident that Obama’s stance on gay rights will be a net gain, politically. Already, fundraising is reportedly up as both disillusioned gay Democrats and even some gay Republicans are coming back into the fold. Indeed, the founder of the Log Cabin Republicans, Rich Tafel, told NPR last weekend that he’s considering defecting to Obama in light of the announcement. If the campaign and Jane Lynch have their way, he won’t be the last.

Alex Seitz-Wald
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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