Yesterday, President Obama's campaign released three statements announcing his endorsement of state ballot initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. In April the President also spoke out against the measure in Minnesota, which would change the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, even though Minnesota already has a law against same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment would make the law more difficult to challenge.
The announcement in via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Washington reads as follows: "The President endorsed Referendum 74 in a statement by Press Secretary Paul Bell, 'While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington's same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.'" While the Obama campaign released three separate statements, they are all very similar, with slight state-specific variations.
Brian Ellner, co-founder of The Four 2012 campaign, said that Obama's endorsement of marriage equality "has had a big impact on public opinion, especially among African Americans." Ellner predicts that Obama's support could make a big difference in such a tight election. On the same day that Obama announced his support of Referendum 74 in Washington, the Washington State NAACP also came out in support of the referendum.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states and the District of Columbia. The President's announcements on Thursday came five months after he became the first President to come out in support of marriage equality. In February the Obama Administration also announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), on the grounds that it considers the law a violation to the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is expected to take up a case addressing the issue of marriage equality during the year-long term that began October 1st.