With same-sex marriage bans on the ballot in three high-profile states in November, presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama could find themselves stuck in a fight they’d rather avoid.

California, Arizona and Florida will ask voters to approve constitutional amendments limiting marriage to a man and woman, and the high-priced election clash over the issue could help decide who becomes the nation’s next president.

Polls show Obama and McCain running neck and neck in much of the nation, which means that any issue that could bring out voters in a swing state such as Florida has to be taken seriously by both parties.

But with the economy, the war in Iraq and health care drawing the most attention in the race for president, same-sex marriage isn’t a battleground either candidate would choose, said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

“Both men need to appeal to moderates,” he said. “And neither candidate seems comfortable talking about this.”

Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle.