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Obama's gay marriage 'honeymoon' a rough ride

Bryn Weese, Senior Washington Correspondent
U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Only time will tell if President Barack Obama's "evolved" support for same-sex marriage results in a net gain or loss of votes in November's election.

But either way, he was probably hoping for a smoother honeymoon when he came out and said "I do" Wednesday.

Social conservatives were quick to pounce and Tony Perkins, who heads the socially conservative Family Research Council, nearly thanked Obama for doing what Mitt Romney never could - energize the Republican base.

"The president, I think, has handed to Mitt Romney the one missing piece in his campaign, and that is the intensity and motivation that Mitt Romney needs among social conservatives to win this election," Perkins told CNN.

"Now, I thought this election was going to be all about the economy and jobs. I think we're going to see another presidential election in which the issue of marriage is going to be front and centre in the debate."

Echoing Romney from a day earlier, John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives in Congress, called the president's move a distraction from the real issues affecting Americans -- the economy.

"I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the president and the Democrats can talk about this all they want but the fact is that the American people are focused on our economy and they're asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?'" he said Thursday.

Gay rights advocates, understandably, were elated with the news and reports suggest Obama's re-election campaign reeled in $1 million in campaign donations in the first 90 minutes after the news broke. And on Thursday, Obama headed to the West Coast for what could be the most successful political fundraising event ever, a $15 million dinner at George Clooney's mansion in California with 150 wealthy celebs paying $40,000 a plate.

The rich, progressive crowd is also being encouraged to donate unlimited amounts to Obama's Super-PAC, and critics pointed out publicly supporting gay marriage a day before a fundraising swing through the West Coast was probably not an accident.

But perhaps the zaniest reaction to Obama's new-found support for gay marriage - he was for it in the 1990s, then against it until Wednesday - came from Bristol Palin, daughter of Tea Party superstar Sarah Palin.

In a blog post Thursday, Palin blasted Obama for listening to his young daughters on the issue of same-sex marriage, saying it's parents who should instil values in their children and not the other way around.

"I guess we can be glad that Malia and Sasha aren't younger, or perhaps today's press conference might have been about appointing Dora the Explorer as attorney general because of her success in stopping Swiper the Fox," she quipped, adding that children should be raised in homes with one mother and one father.

"...we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home," wrote Palin, a single mother who had a child, Tripp, out of wedlock and has repeatedly said her ex-boyfriend, Levi, is not a part of the child's life.

Gay Republican groups, too, criticized Obama Thursday not for supporting gay marriage, but for not offering any concrete legislative steps to support it, and they also questioned the timing as being politically motivated.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows the issue evenly splits Americans, with 50% in support of legal marriage for gay couples and 48% opposed.