His use of the word "evolved" translates to "focus-grouped the best way to appear to support a politically controversial topic, while minimizes the fallout at the ballot box come November."
He knows that gay marriage has been voted down in 32 states, and the only time it's enacted into law is when legislators or judges impose it on the people. But he also knows that 20% of his bundlers (supporters who organize or donate $500,0000 or more to the campaign) are gay and were withholding their contributions until they saw more movement on their issues.
Obama's was simply being pragmatic for once. He was not proclaiming any great new realization on human rights, he was doing what he had to to get the campaign cash flowing once again.
At first glance, this seems gutsy though. After all, Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, and the Democratic Party has made a repeat victory here a top priority. The party will hold its presidential convention in Charlotte in September - a state that became the most recent to shoot down gay marriage just 3 days prior to Obama's "big decision". One would think that would not play out in favor of a repeat victory in that prized state.
But if you look carefully at his statement, you'll see an escape hatch:
"PRESIDENT OBAMA: And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage."- Obama on Gay Marriage: I Support it, and Support States Banning it
Obama considering states rights? That's a first.
His has been the most heavy-handed and overreaching administration in recent memory, but now all of a sudden he's content to let the states decide what should be law in this all so important issue of the day?
No, of course not. This is simply more "leading from behind." This is his fallback technique of appearing to be down for the struggle, while not actually doing anything to further the cause. His gay supporters think they heard support from the highest level of government, and they open up their purse strings. Meanwhile, Obama and company can claim to North Carolinians that he was merely expressing his opinion and has not enacted any legislation on the matter.
Time will tell how this will play out in the great election of 2012, but frankly I think it's more division and distraction than anything else.
My take on the matter is this: Get government out of the marriage business.
Problem solved. Everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the state. Marriages are considered civil unions by the state and couples get taxed and treated the same. Leave the covenant of marriage where it belongs - in the church.
But if we solve the problem, then there's one less wedge issue to divide and distract the voters come November, and without that the voters may focus on Obama's record.