Obama and the Gay Vote

His campaign could rely on a very outspoken minority

President Barack Obama did a little campaigning in West Hollywood recently. For anyone who doesn’t already know – West Hollywood is Gay Central, a bit like a Gayborhood of the West Coast. Not only was the event telling of how he’s been wooing votes these days, but it showcases just how important the gay vote could turn out to be for the president as he seeks his second term amid rather dismal satisfaction ratings.

And while less than half of the public at large may actually be pleased with the job Obama’s doing, many LGBT people couldn’t be happier. While Obama was a slow starter on gay issues from the get go (that famous statement of his about marriage being between a man and a woman will surely haunt him), he’s probably been the most proactively pro-gay president in history. Not only does he deserve a certain amount of credit for a few big strides, like repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” opposing DOMA, and pushing for visitation rights for same-sex couples in hospitals in states that don’t allow marriage, but he seems to have made a turnaround when it comes to LGBT issues.

And that’s likely a smart political strategy.

As Obama forges his re-election campaign, he has quite a few hoops to jump through to convince the American public that he deserves another chance. And with issues like the economy and unemployment on the minds of many, that won’t be easy.

The GOP primary is also using the president as a bit of a punching bag, calling him everything from a socialist to a heathen (and that’s why the options among Republicans this time around are so darn grim for gay voters).

A big question gay voters need to ask is whether they think Obama is in it for the long haul, and whether – if elected to a second term – will he finally make the big step and talk about same-sex marriage. It’s a controversial issue that he will likely sidestep in his re-election bid (alienating moderate voters and all). But if he is, indeed, re-elected – which is looking possible despite public angst – he’ll need to do more than troll for votes in heavily LGBT communities. The people who will or will not put him into office deserve as much. Because while many voters have all but turned their backs on Obama, the gay community still seems to be standing in solidarity, especially if you consider his recent interactions with the LGBT constituency.

And if you have any question at all about who to vote for, consider whether a Bachmann, Romney or Perry (and possibly Palin) even know where West Hollywood is. Because while Obama may not be perfect, he’s a heck of a lot more promising for the gay community than presidential hopefuls who pin their campaigns on Jesus.