Same-sex marriage: Obama's intriguing political calculation

Finally. Belatedly. About time too.

That's the view of many Americans after the President's announcement.

Outrageous. Divisive. Polarising.

That's also the opinion of a good chunk of the American people.

Welcome to the Great Debate about same-sex marriage. Yes, Americans can't agree.

But now President Obama has come down in favour of gay marriage. In December 2010 he famously declared his views were "evolving...I struggle with this."

With 6 months to go before the election, his thoughts have finally evolved. It's an intriguing political calculation.

He risks mobilising his opponents and sending Bible Belt America into a rage of indignation that will help Mitt Romney.

But he has also electrified his own political base and opened up the wallets of gay-rights groups and fund-raisers.

Now liberals, students, leftist activists and all those who were exhilarated by Barack Obama in 2008 can re-discover their enthusiasm for his candidacy.

Within minutes of the President's announcement to ABC News, some Democrats were comparing its significance to the abolition of slavery and the great acts of the Civil Rights movement.

As with everything this President does, it comes down to raw politics. Politics and Michelle.

That's because we understand that the First Lady was a key influence in telling the President that he couldn't sit on the fence and be judged a transformational figure.

In that Michelle is surely right.

As for the political wisdom of the move, that will be clearer on November 7th, once Americans have voted.