An overwhelming North Carolina vote to define marriage as legal only between a man and woman dealt a strong blow to gay marriage supporters this week.
With 58 percent support, the measure made North Carolina the 29th state to ban gay marriage, which is legal in only six states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Maryland and New York) and the District of Columbia.
Washington and Maryland passed legislation to permit it, but those laws have yet to take effect. In any case, North Carolina deals marriage equality a setback.
The state's Amendment One also proved that despite slow, but steady increases in support nationally, same-sex unions remain unappealing in many areas.
The vote came as President Obama has been facing criticism from his Democratic base for not coming out in favor of gay marriage, even as several of his Cabinet officials - including Vice President Joe Biden - have expressed support.
The most recent Gallup poll shows a plurality of voters support gay marriage, with the number backing it growing over the last several years.
But the results in North Carolina, a major presidential battleground state narrowly won by Obama in 2008, could temper that momentum.Obama’s description of himself as “evolving” on the issue amounts to a public flirtation, prompting speculation that he’ll become a gay-marriage supporter in time for the Democratic National Convention this summer in Charlotte.
But the president is counting on North Carolina and demographically similar states, like Virginia, to lift him to a second term in a tight race.
Assuming an unpopular position on such a high-profile issue is politically dangerous if he hopes to defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
It is probably much more likely that Obama continues to occupy the grey area between opposition and support for the remainder of 2012.
If he were to win reelection, his position could potentially "evolve" again in 2013, but the N.C. Amendment 1 vote likely rules it out before that.