United States President Barack Obama returns to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. from a two-day campaign and fund-raising trip to Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles, California and Reno, Nevada on May 11, 2012. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) -- The head of the Republican Party said Sunday the legalization of same-sex marriage would be a side issue in the U.S. presidential election.
Ron Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that most voters were more concerned with the economy rather than the more-limited issue of homosexuals getting married.
"I happen to believe that, at the end of the day," Priebus said. "However, this election is still going to be about the economy and whether or not this president fulfilled the promises that he made to the American people."
Priebus said same-sex marriage was an issue that provided voters with a clear choice between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. "I'm not sure if it's going to be a defining issue, but for those people in America where gay marriage is their No. 1 one issue, we clearly have two different candidates with two different views."
Priebus said the GOP believed most Americans opposed same-sex marriage.
Leaders of the conservative Christian movement agreed Sunday that Romney's opposition to gay marriage would bring more evangelicals into his corner.
"I think that Barack Obama has helped fit that missing piece of intensity that Mitt Romney is going to need," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Perkins opined that Obama made a major strategic blunder in speaking out in favor of gay marriage because 10 states considered battlegrounds have passed laws banning same-sex marriage, some of them by wide margins. "I don't think the president did a political calculus to do this because if he did, he needs to go back to the calculator because it's a bad formula," Perkins said.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said he did not see Obama's stance on gay marriage as much of a game-changer in the campaign. He told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that voters who had strong feelings on either side of the issue had already made up their minds about the candidates.
Frank even downplayed the significance of Obama's support of such a seemingly radical change in family dynamics. Frank said the legal barriers to same-sex marriage were gradually falling apart and Obama was merely getting on the right side.
"I expected the president to be supporting same-sex marriage, because, frankly, of the absence of any good reason against it," Frank said.
Frank said the Republican idea of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would be a flop because it ran contrary to the traditional idea of marriage being a state-by-state issue.
Romney, however, could benefit by being on the right side of public opinion, if not constitutional law, said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. "The view Gov. Romney holds on traditional marriage is a view that's held by a lot of people across this country," Thune told CNN. "There are more than 30 states, who either by statute or constitutional amendment, have defined marriage as being between a man and a woman."