From The Grio — The instant President Obama set foot in the White House gay groups relentlessly hounded him to dump the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy in the military (and anywhere else) and drop his support of marriage being exclusively defined as being between a man and a woman. There was never much doubt that he would do that. It was just a matter of when. Now he’s done both.

He endorsed a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would repeal the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits and protections to gay couples who married in states that recognize their unions. He then certified Congress’ repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Both actions drew cheers from gay groups. They cheered even more lustily when hundreds of same sex couples said “I do” legally in New York following the state’s legalizing of gay marriage.


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However, Obama’s move has brought mostly silence from blacks and civil rights groups. That’s because repeal of DADT has not and never has been a priority issue for most blacks. But the bigger question is not whether blacks shrug their shoulders at Obama’s aggressive support of broader gay rights issues, but whether it will do anything to dampen his support among blacks during the epic re-election battle that he will face in 2012.

There are two reasons this is a worry. Blacks have been by far the most vigorous proponents of the assorted defense of the family initiatives that have been plopped on various state ballots. This has always been the code words for anti-gay marriage opposition. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in polls in 2009and 2010 found that blacks opposed same sex marriage by gaping margins over whites or Hispanics.

Even more striking — for the first time in the decade and half that Pew had been polling Americans on attitudes toward gay rights, and that includes gay marriage, the same poll found that less than half of Americans opposed same sex marriage. At the same time, blacks have been at best only mildly tolerant toward the gay rights movement.

The second reason for worry is the oft-heard criticism that Obama has bent over backwards far too much to placate LGBT groups. He’s repeatedly gone to their dinners, conferences and made a number of appointments of openly gays to administration and agency posts.

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