There was, of course, cold politics behind it. One in six of Obama’s fundraising bundlers is gay, and he needs their money. Wall Street has not backed him financially this year the way it did in 2008. A few Jewish donors have held back over Israel. And when Obama announced recently that he would not issue an executive order barring antigay discrimination for federal contractors, the gay donors all but threatened to leave him high and dry. The unity and intensity of the gay power brokers—absent in the defensive crouch of the Clinton years—proved that FDR’s maxim still applied: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”You should really go read the whole thing.
If money was one factor making the move necessary, the youth vote—essential to his demographic coalition and overwhelmingly pro–marriage equality—clinched the logic of it. The under-30s were looking worryingly apathetic, especially compared with 2008. This would fire them back up. And by taking a position directly counter to that of Mitt Romney, who favors a constitutional amendment to ban all rights for gay couples across the entire country, Obama advanced his key strategy to winning in the fall: to make this a choice election. If it is a choice election, he wins. If it is a referendum on the last four years of economic crisis, he could lose. And last week, especially after The Washington Post broke the news of Romney’s adolescent assault on a gay student, the choice could not have been starker.