WASHINGTON (BP) -- President Obama's re-election campaign has fully embraced his public support of gay "marriage" and seems poised to make it a general election issue -- even to the point of ridiculing Mitt Romney's backing of traditional marriage.
Hours after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to declare public support for the issue, his campaign sent out an email to supporters with the subject line "Marriage."
"I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry," Obama said in the email. "... What I've come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens."
The email concluded, "If you agree, you can stand up with me here" -- and a link to donate money was provided.
The Democratic National Committee also sent out an email from chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, embracing the issue.
"Folks, this is what Democrats are all about -- and I'm so proud we have a president who's willing to stand up and say it," she wrote. "Let's join him. Show your support for marriage equality today."
The issue of gay "marriage" was the dominant theme May 10 at BarackObama.com -- Obama's campaign website -- where visitors encountered a large picture of Obama with the words, "same-sex couples should be able to get married." The campaign also sent out multiple Tweets and Facebook messages spreading the president's position.
But perhaps the biggest embrace of the issue came in an Internet video where the campaign re-played Obama's statement and Romney's previous statements, and even twisted President Bush's words on civil unions -- all in about 90 seconds.
The Obama re-election video ends with a clip of GOP presumptive nominee Romney at a Republican debate. Romney says, "Calling [a gay relationship] a marriage creates a whole host of problems for families, for the law, for the practice of religion, for education. Let me say this, 3,000 years of human history shouldn't be discarded so quickly." The video then ends with words on the screen: "President Obama is Moving us Forward." The implication: Romney is backwards. In fact, that's the name the campaign gave the video: "Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality."
Ironically, Romney's statement received significant applause at the debate and agreement among social conservatives. His "religion" comment was referencing court-ordered gay "marriage" in his home state of Massachusetts, when Boston Catholic Charities decided to shut down its widely praised adoption and foster care work rather than be forced to follow a state law requiring that children be placed in the homes of homosexual couples. He apparently also was referencing the fact that some Massachusetts public schools had read books about gay "marriage" to elementary-age children.
The fast-paced video criticizes Romney's support for a federal marriage amendment. It also blasts his opposition to civil unions. It shows him saying, "I don't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage other than by name." The video claims: "Even President Bush supported civil unions." It then shows a clip of the former president saying, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union."
Bush, though, did not favor civil unions. The quote at issue is from 2004, when during an interview Bush said he did not believe a federal marriage amendment -- endorsed by the GOP platform -- should prohibit states from legalizing civil unions. Bush's full quote was, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." His spokespersons at the time said he did not favor such a law.
Obama's stance makes it likely that the Democratic platform will also endorse gay "marriage" -- which would be a political first for either party.
As Obama's campaign continued speaking out on the issue, Southern Baptist leaders did, too -- but in disagreement with the president.
"It saddens me and grieves me that the president has endorsed same-sex marriage," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "This is an issue that every time the American people have had a chance to vote on, including [in North Carolina May 8], they have voted overwhelmingly to keep marriage as between a man and a woman."
Dwight McKissic, an African American and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, said Obama's announcement negatively impacted minority churches.
"President Obama has betrayed the Bible and the Black Church with his endorsement of same-sex marriage," McKissic said in a statement. "The Bible is crystal clear on this subject, and the Black Church strongly opposes same-sex marriage. His endorsement is an inadvertent attack on the Christian Faith.
McKissic added, "This means that parents are now going to have an extremely difficult time teaching their children that marriage biblically and traditionally is between a man and a woman, when the President that many love and admire is now on record endorsing sodomy. This is painful and shameful. The Black Church should galvanize, mobilize and address this matter with the same (if not greater) intensity, velocity and resolve as we did the Civil Rights Movement. If we don't, our children and grandchildren will pay a far greater price in suffering from a governmental sanction of same-sex marriage than we would have under segregation."
Several SBC pastors made their thoughts known in Tweets.
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas Tweeted, "Let me appeal to all my pastor friends to clearly and unequivocally state your support of Biblical marriage. Don't sit this one out."
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, said in a Tweet, "November 6, 2012, has now shifted from jobs, jobs, jobs; as an evangelical, it will now be about upholding the sacredness of marriage."
Maxie Miller, African American church planting team strategist at the Florida Baptist Convention, wrote in a Tweet, "The President's position on same sex marriage is sad and disturbing."
Gay "marriage" has lost in every state where it's been on the ballot -- 32 in all
. The latest loss came May 8 in North Carolina, where voters passed, by a margin of 61-39 percent, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp). Read Glenn Stanton's column, "Why not legalize gay marriage?" at www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37494