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Education Secretary Arne Duncan endorses gay marriage. Is Obama cornered?


The following ran in the May 7, 2012, edition of the Christian Science Monitor. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

May 9, 2012

By Linda Feldmann

Washington - Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined the chorus Monday in support of gay marriage, following Vice President Joe Biden’s statement Sunday on “Meet the Press” that he is “comfortable” with same-sex marriage.

When asked Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the United States, Mr. Duncan said matter-of-factly, “Yes, I do.” He added that he didn’t think he’d ever been asked that question publicly.

President Obama has not voiced support for gay marriage, instead backing civil unions, though he has maintained for over a year that his views are “evolving.” Many Obama supporters assume that, in his heart, the president supports gay marriage, but is cautious about potential political risks, and therefore is waiting until after the fall election to openly change his view.

But with two major surrogates expressing support in rapid succession, the walls appear to be closing in on the president. On Monday, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president and a co-chair of Mr. Obama's reelection campaign, boxed in the president further, saying that gay marriage should be a part of this year's Democratic Party platform....

If Obama does decide to come out in support of gay marriage before November, he should do it soon, says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“It certainly could energize Christian conservatives to the extent that they are still a little bit depressed over Romney’s nomination,” Mr. Jillson says. “But my sense is that they are more concerned with beating Obama. Support for gay marriage won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The back is already broken.”