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Does the Obama Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage Matter Here?

Yes and no, I think. In the short term, it amps up the pressure on Senator Jack Reed, the one member of the state's Congressional delegation who has not yet come out in favor of same-sex marriage, to do so. Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) is already taking it to him:

"Today, President Obama reaffirmed the American ideal that all citizens should be treated equally. It's been 224 days since Sen. Reed promised to make a decision on this important civil rights issue 'very shortly.' With President Obama, Vice President Biden, every other member of our Congressional delegation and a majority of Rhode Islanders all supporting equal rights for LGBTQ citizens, it's time Sen. Reed told us where he stands," said MERI Campaign Director Ray Sullivan.
And in the long-term, it adds to the rather fast-moving sense of cultural shift in the country. The latest Gallup poll finds 50 percent of Americans in favor of gay marriage; support amongt the young is even stronger.
 
But President Obama said, in his interview, that he still sees gay marriage as a matter for the states to decide. And whether it should be decided on the state level or not, that is undoubtedly the chief battleground these days - a battelground that's proven quite hostile to same-sex marriage supporters to date. Yesterday, North Carolina became the latest in a long line of states to approve a ban on same-sex marriages, with voters passing the measure by an overwhelming margin: 61 to 39 percent.
 
The first big test of whether Obama's announcement will shift the tide may come in Maryland, where opponents of gay marriage are collecting signatures for a November ballot measure aimed at overturning that state's same-sex nuptials law.
 
In Rhode Island, where a same-sex marriage bill failed last year, it's hard to imagine a vote in an election year. And without a significant shift in the composition of the legislature - particularly in the Senate leadership - it's hard to see a victory even a year after that.
 
But the drip, drip, drip of cultural change will be felt at some point in the General Assembly. And President Obama contributed a nice little splash today.

 

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