MSNBC.COM - President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday was by any measure a watershed. A sitting United States president took sides in what many people consider the last civil rights movement, providing the most powerful evidence to date of how rapidly views are moving on an issue that was politically toxic just five years ago.
Mr. Obama faces considerable risk in jumping into this debate, reluctantly or not, in the heat of such a close election. The day before he announced his position, voters inNorth Carolina — a critical state in Mr. Obama's re-election plan and the site of the Democratic convention this summer — approved by a 20-point margin a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It was the 31st state to pass such an amendment.