Expert: Gay Marriage Not Likely To Be Decisive Election Issue

4:44 PM, May 9, 2012   |    comments
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Winston-Salem, NC -- People all over the country are talking about the decision North Carolina voters made to add an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Even President Barack Obama weighed in on same-sex marriage Wednesday, when -- for the first time -- he said he supported it.

Experts say North Carolina is a swing state this election season, and President Obama has certainly been paying plenty of attention to what's been happening here. So what message does it send when 61 percent of the voters here said they want a constitutional amendment defining marriage?

A political science professor at Wake Forest University said trying to connect same-sex marriage and the presidential race can be tricky.

"Many of the individuals who voted for this amendment [Tuesday] are also likely to turn out and vote for President Obama's reelection," John Dinan said. "Some people who voted against the amendment might well vote in a different way.

"So, it's a lesson on the same-sex marriage issue. And that is, 61 percent of North Carolina voters were willing to vote for an amendment prohibiting it. Broader implications, [it's] tougher to draw them."

Dinan said economic issues consistently rank higher as a concern for voters. In fact, he said same-sex marriage doesn't even rank in the top 10 most-important issues to likely voters.

But as North Carolinians displayed Tuesday, the issue can mobilize voters. And even though 31 states now have constitutional amendments against gay marriage, the president finally weighed in on the issue Wednesday during an interview with ABC News.

"I've just concluded for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," President Obama said to ABC News.

While Dinan says this isn't something that will decide the presidential race, it certainly has people talking. President Obama's likely opponent this fall -- Republican Mitt Romney -- has said he does not approve of same-sex marriage.

WFMY News 2

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