By Andrew Mach, NBC News
A group of African-American pastors say that President Barack Obamaâ€™s backing of gay marriage may cost him the election due to weakening support among black voters — although he still has overwhelming support from them.
Rev. William Owens, head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, a group of black Christians backing traditional family values, said Obama has taken the black vote for granted.
â€œHe has not done a smart thing and it might cost him the election,â€ Owens said during a press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington. â€œThere are more people that want marriage to be right than there are homosexuals.â€
Although Owens declared that â€œwe are not Democrats, we are not Republicans, this is not a political party,â€ Owens criticized the president for not denouncing gay marriage. He said the press conference was held to promote the groupâ€™s Mandate for Marriage, a pledge to support marriage between one man and one woman â€“ what Owens says will be a national campaign aimed at rallying black Americans to rethink their support of the president.
Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, and while enthusiasm among some Obama supporters has faded since then, support for Americaâ€™s first black president remains high among African Americans. In a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 82 percent of black registered voters say they would vote for Obama. His approval rating among blacks was 87 percent.
The groupâ€™s press conference was held just one day after Rep. Barney FrankÂ confirmedÂ that the Democratic Party is set to include a pro-gay marriage plank in their party-convention platform. The platform, approved unanimously on Sunday, not only backs marriage equality, but also rejects DOMA and has positive language with regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The move wasnâ€™t a complete surprise, considering Obamaâ€™sÂ public endorsement of same-sex marriage in May.
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