Continued from page 1

“It could hurt him clearly with two groups - white working-class voters and African-Americans,” Mr. Zogby said. “He has to be very cautious about saying anything that may alienate even small groups that are traditional and conservative and just may not vote.”

Although 95 percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama in 2008, even turning away a small portion of this base in a weak economy while Mr. Obama’s job approval is low could hurt him, Mr. Zogby said. And about 40 percent of Latino voters are socially conservative, forming another key group the president is courting for his re-election bid.

Mr. Obama has said decisions on gay marriage should be left up to states. But he also signed a questionnaire in 1996 as a candidate for the Illinois state senate saying he supported gay marriage.

Currently five states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont — and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. New York’s legislation was proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

The president has given gays some victories, most notably his support for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, although the administration still hasn’t certified it officially.

Earlier this year, the administration decided to stop defending in court a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal government recognition of same-sex unions. In 2009, the administration extended benefits to domestic partners of federal employees.

Mr. Obama has proclaimed this month “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.” Of course, he has also declared June as “Great Outdoors Month,” “African-American Music Appreciation Month” and “National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.”