President Obama should "man up" and take a stand on same-sex marriage, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell advised Tuesday on MSNBC, predicting that no political harm would come from supporting it.
"If he believes in it, he should say he's for it," Rendell said later in an interview with The Inquirer. "If he's going to do it eventually, he should do it now. Say his piece. Too many people in public life are afraid to say what they believe."
Obama has said that he opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, but that his view is "evolving" and that he supports equal civil rights for gay couples. The issue heated up this week after two members of his administration, Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, made comments supportive of legalizing gay marriage.
Rendell, who said Obama had shown great political courage in other arenas, added that he has not discussed the issue with the president and does not know anything more about where he stands on it.
Most analysts believe Obama is sympathetic to supporters of marriage equality but cannot openly support it for fear of offending conservative Democrats and independents in swing states such as North Carolina - which had a gay-marriage ban on the ballot Tuesday.
In addition, polls have shown many African American voters oppose same-sex marriage. Obama needs a huge turnout of black voters if he is to reassemble his winning coalition from 2008.
"No one would vote against Barack Obama on this issue who wasn't already going to," Rendell told The Inquirer.
As governor and previously as Philadelphia mayor, Rendell favored civil unions that gave the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as married heterosexuals. He said Tuesday that he is now "strongly for" the right of gays to wed: "There's no real reason for opposing it." - Thomas Fitzgerald