President Obama deserves to be applauded for finally coming out in favour of gay marriage, after having officially been against it throughout his presidency. While his reasoning on the issue is unprincipled, and while it is surprising that he has finally discovered that some things are best left to the states, one cannot deny the emotional value of having the president stating that your desire to marry someone, regardless of whether your spouse-to-be is of the same sex as you, is something to celebrate and endorse.
But let’s not forget the man who actually showed leadership on the issue. It was vice president Joe Biden who forced his master’s hand, by stating his support of gay marriage on Meet the Press. For this, Mr Biden — not someone whose policy preferences I share, in general — should be given full credit.
As for the impact on the election, I suspect it will be close to zero. If anything, it might aid Mr Obama, by making his base more enthusiastic. Given the economic distress, I doubt that gay marriage is an issue that will make swing voters pick one candidate over the other.