Cynthia Paul is vice president of Pride at Work Michigan, a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender advocacy group within the AFL-CIO. She said her personal view is that Obama's words will bring out some Michigan supporters who otherwise might have skipped the election.
Democratic and Republican consultants said Wednesday the issues basically remain unchanged for Michigan voters: Democrats like Obama because he backed a federal bailout for General Motors and Chrysler, and Republicans dislike what they consider his poor record on economic recovery and federal debt.
In 2004, 59 percent of Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to a man and a woman.
For some gay Americans, the politics were secondary to an emotional embrace of what they viewed as history in the making.
"Wow — that was wow," said Rodney Mondor of Portland, Maine, after hearing the news. He has lived with his partner for 13 years and is raising a 12-year-old son in a state that will be voting in November on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gay-marriage supporters said Obama's pronouncement on Wednesday would galvanize legions of progressive voters who had grown impatient with the president's self-described "evolving" on one of the nation's most divisive social issues.
"There are, no doubt, some places where it will hurt him, and it may change his Electoral College strategy," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights. "But ultimately it's a big plus for him — it highlights his willingness to tackle tough issues in a thoughtful but ultimately decisive way."
Opponents of gay marriage depicted Obama as bowing to gay-rights pressure, and predicted his new stance on marriage would jeopardize his re-election chances.
"President Obama has now made the definition of marriage a defining issue in the presidential contest, especially in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.