COMMENTARY | After President Barack Obama said he supported same-sex marriage, many supporters worried his overwhelming popularity among black voters could fade. Blacks have traditionally been less supportive of same-sex marriage than other groups, and Democrats worry black leaders and churches could become increasingly lukewarm about America's first black president as he faces a tough re-election challenge.
But the Associated Press reports the NAACP has declared it considers same-sex marriage to be a civil right. The NAACP is widely known as one of the most influential black organizations and its concurrence with the president's support of same-sex marriage is a major boost for Democrats.
Many black voters who might consider not casting a ballot for Obama as a result of nonsupport from church ministers might reconsider based on this decree. Due to the NAACP's lasting legacy from the intense civil rights struggles of past generations, many individuals who are on the fence about their support of Obama and same-sex marriage might find the endorsement to be the push to vote Democratic.
Additionally, the NAACP assertion that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue is an important clarifying point in a simmering debate. Many have tried to differentiate the traditional race-based civil rights struggles from today's struggles over same-sex marriage rights, claiming the struggles of today pale in comparison to those of the 1950s and 1960s.
The NAACP vote is a crucial victory. It will take the wind out of the sails of many critics who claim equality based on sexual orientation is less important than equality based on race and gender, minimizing a debate that could potentially split Democrats. The endorsement is a big step in creating cohesion and consensus, which is what Democrats will need to win in November.