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“President Obama has made this an issue in the campaign and we are confident that Mitt Romney will eagerly defend the voters of these states against the president’s attempt to impose same-sex marriage on the nation,” said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

Groups focused on a broader portfolio of issues say gay marriage will be one of several social issues on their agendas but that none will be emphasized as prominently as Obama’s performance on the economy.

Before Obama’s announcement, Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition was preparing a voter guide and social media campaign that included gay marriage with other social issues.

“The only thing that’s changed now is that we can say that Obama himself has come out and stated that he’s for single-sex marriage,” Reed said.

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, a conservative grass-roots group, didn’t need Boehner’s counsel to know that Obama’s support for gay marriage shouldn’t play a leading role in the election. She’s seen the polls that show America roughly split over gay marriage, although with support for it growing, as well as surveys that leave no doubt voters remain jittery about the economy and their personal finances.

“I don’t want to see the election just based around social issues,” Combs said. “You can’t keep Americans’ minds off of the economy.”