President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage earlier today.  The timing of his announcement seems to have a lot to do with two factors:

1. Two prominent  members of his administration, V.P. Biden and Secretary of Education Duncan,  have recently declared their support,  prompting gay-rights activists to pressure President Obama to declare his position.

2. A fundraising dinner tomorrow at the L.A. home of George Clooney that will be attended by a Hollywood crowd that is strongly in favor of gay rights.

Regardless of his reasons for  today’s announcement, there is no telling what kind of political fallout (or boom) this can have on his re-election prospects.  In other words, President Obama had the courage to state what he believes is right, whatever the consequences will be.  He has introduced a political hot potato into his campaign while a lesser candidate would be avoiding it like the plague. In his characteristically logical, well thought-out decision process, he explains how he reached his position:

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

 I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient.  I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.
The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.  And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.” [N.Y. Times]

Speaking of a lesser candidate, Mitt Romney handled President Obama’s announcement with Mittens-like delicacy by declaring: “This is a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues, but I have the same views I’ve had since running for office.”   Someone should tell Romney that there is nothing tender about discrimination.  There is nothing tender about denying a human being equal treatment under the law because of who they love.

Given Romney’s “tender” reply and his unwillingness to stand up for his principles, in search of his party’s blessing (think Massachusetts health plan), I suspect he already knows this, he just doesn’t dare say it.