On Wednesday, President Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts that he believed same-sex couples "should be able to get married." His statement came just days after his vice president and his education secretary voiced their support for marriage equality, and one day after North Carolina -- a key swing state -- voted in favor of an amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.
On Thursday, The Huffington Post emailed with Maggie Gallagher, the co-author of "Debating Same-Sex Marriage," and one of the leading voices advocating against marriage equality. Gallagher is the co-founder and former president of the National Organization for Marriage. Last month, internal documents from NOM were unsealed in a Maine courthouse, revealing the organization's plan to defeat campaigns for marriage equality by "fanning the hostility" between black and gay voters and casting President Obama as a "radical" opponent of marriage.
Gallagher thought the president's announcement yesterday could help marriage equality opponents -- including Mitt Romney, who affirmed his opposition to gay marriage and civil unions yesterday.
This interview has been condensed.
What was your first reaction when you heard the president say that he thought that same-sex couples should be able to get married?
Relieved. Lying to the American people to get elected is always wrong, so it's good he's come clean on the issue.
Do you think this is a turning point in the debate over marriage?
In the debate? No. In the elections? Quite possibly yes. President Obama probably just did something for Mitt Romney that Romney was having a hard time doing for himself: consolidate his support among evangelicals.
Plus he just put himself on the wrong side of 61 percent of voters in North Carolina, a key swing state. The cheers of Hollywood and Manhattan are not going to be that helpful come November. I do believe he was pushed by his gay donor base to do this.
He chose the money over the voters. We'll see how that turns out in November.
What is your biggest fear about same-sex marriage becoming legal throughout the United States?
That people will believe the biggest big lie of all: our historic understanding of marriage was just bigotry and discrimination -- that there's nothing special, unique, or necessary for children or society about bringing together male and female so children can have their mother and father.
Were you involved in drafting the National Organization for Marriage's internal documents recently unsealed in the court case in Maine? Do you think that the president's announcement will effect the "wedge" strategy laid out in the section "Not a civil right project"?
I think African-American church leaders will continue to teach Christian understanding of sex and marriage to their flocks. African-Americans in their flocks may well continue to vote for Pres. Obama and also oppose gay marriage. NOM did not create these divisions. I'm happy to apologize for the aggressive sounding tone of that long-ago memo, but not for the project which involves white, suburban, Republican girls like me reaching out to people of all races, creeds and colors on the marriage issue. Marriage truly forges a unique political coalition.
What do you make of recent polling that suggests that American's views, broadly, are shifting on this issue, and growing more in favor of same-sex marriage?
I agree with the PPP polling (a Democratic firm) who tweeted as the North Carolina returns came in “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.”
Even in North Carolina, the Republican speaker of the House said he thought in two decades, the amendment there banning same-sex marriage and civil unions will be repealed. Do you think this is true?