President Obama has 'revolved' coming back to the position he had on marriage equality when he ran for Illinois State Senate in 1996. Since that time President Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promises and ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell, signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, actively advocated to pass ENDA, stopped his Justice Department from defending DOMA, and shown he is willing to walk-the-walk not just talk-the-talk by hiring and nominating for jobs highly qualified individuals who are members of the LGBT community. During that same period of time Mitt Romney has 'devolved.' He continues to oppose marriage equality and now opposes civil unions; he is committed to supporting a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage; and made a mockery of his commitment to the voters of Massachusetts in 1994 when he said he would be "better than Ted Kennedy" on issues impacting the LGBT community.
Now the campaign moves beyond the issues of the LGBT community. The pundits have weighed in extensively on the president's pro marriage equality stand and have no idea how it will impact the election. Obama painted himself into a corner when he started talking about 'evolving' making it not a religious or moral issue but rather a political one. Nevertheless, his support is historic and the LGBT community has to be both proud and grateful to him for becoming the first sitting president to support marriage equality. The immediate impact has been that many other individuals and organizations, including the NAACP have now come out for marriage equality using the president's position to either give them courage or cover. The president has raised millions of dollars and energized a big part of his base. At the same time his position has energized many in the Evangelical and ultra-conservative communities to support Romney even if for the moment it appears they are holding their nose as they do.
The next step for both the president and Governor Romney is to move to other issues that energize their base. The president should continue to focus on women (who make up the majority of the electorate) and young people in order to get them to the polls. Both he and Romney will try to convince everyone, but especially Independents that they are better able to deal with the economy. The president must continue to emphasize the slow and steady progress the nation is making toward economic recovery and convince everyone that sticking with him is better than trusting Romney who has stated he believes that providing massive tax breaks and benefits to the rich will somehow trickle down to the masses. While countries in Europe are using the model of all cuts rather than stimulus and seeing their economies tank, the Republican's still insist that is the model we should be adopting here. The recent more than $2 billion loss and ensuing fiasco at JPMorgan Chase Bank should help the president make it clear to the 99 percent that giving Wall Street the unfettered right to risk even their own money which is federally secured may not be the way to go.
This presidential election and most Congressional races will not be decided on the issue of marriage equality. Most of those both for and against report it is not their top issue. Young people continue to want a future where they can graduate college and get a job without being weighed down with enormous debt repayable at high interest rates. They applaud the President when he makes bold moves like he did on marriage-equality and look to reclaim some of the excitement (Sarah Palin calls it the hopey/changey thing) they had in 2008. Women want to know that the President they elect will stand with them and avoid their having to re-fight all the issues they made progress on, and thought they had won, nearly 40 years ago. Nearly everyone wants to see an end to the war in Afghanistan.
Each candidate is getting help motivating their base because of the stark contrasts between them. The Republican party is having the kind of internal debates that the Democratic party had back in 1972 when they nominated George McGovern. Their ultra-conservative base appears to be turned on by hate. Clearly Romney is not his own man as he couldn't have won the nomination running on his record as governor of Massachusetts. For an example one has only to look at the Rich Grenell incident, he is the gay foreign affairs expert/spokesman Romney hired who then left quickly without much of a peep from Romney because of the flak Romney's homophobic supporters created.
It's an unfortunate circumstance when a politician follows' the lead of those who support him who forget that the Constitution of the United States and our three branches of government were based on the understanding that people of good will could and would disagree but in the end reach compromise to move the nation forward. Those taking over the Republican party have apparently adopted the motto, 'my way or the highway' and as represented by the defeat of Richard Lugar (R-IN) the Republican party is quickly shedding itself of the last vestiges of their moderate wing. In exchange they get a group of radical conservatives many of whom seem to have no compunction at being openly racist, sexist and homophobic.
In the end the candidate's positions on issues that will make a difference to the lives of future generations will decide this election. They include how America pulls back from Afghanistan; handles the reform of Medicare and Medicaid; stabilizes the social security system for future generations; pays down the debt; how we handle our long-term role as world peacekeeper; and the basic core beliefs the next president and members of the Senate hold as he appoints and they confirm future Supreme Court justices. Those nine men and women will eventually decide on the constitutionality of marriage-equality; states rights issues such as Section 3 of DOMA; whether we uphold Roe v. Wade; and other issues impacting how we live in the future.
A Republican Congress and the Republican presidential candidate have promised to turn back the clock on a host of previously settled issues in the area of women's rights; LGBT rights; healthcare; and to continue support of tax cuts for the wealthy. A second term for president Obama and a Democratic Congress would see efforts to stabilize Medicare and Social Security without radically changing them; pass ENDA and repeal DOMA; appointment of potentially two more liberal Supreme Court justices; and the continued push for a fair and equitable national tax policy.
This is an important election and the American people will give voice to their vision of the future. Marriage equality will be but a sidebar, a small part of the panoply of issues that will foretell how American's want their nation to look in the next 50 years.