Tags: Barack Obama | Gay Marriage | obama | axelrod | believer | gay marriage | civil unions

Obama: I Didn't Play Politics in Views on Gay Marriage

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 08:18 AM

President Barack Obama says his former senior political adviser David Axelrod, who in a soon-to-be-published memoir writes that for most of his political career Obama intentionally misled the public about his support for gay marriage, must have "mixed up" the president’s personal feelings with his political position, BuzzFeed reports.

"I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else, and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there," Obama told BuzzFeed.

He added that his belief at the time was that civil unions were "a sufficient way of squaring the circle."

His view changed, Obama said, when he saw "the pain and the sense of stigma that was being placed on same-sex couples who are friends of [his]."

In his book, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics," Axelrod writes that Obama long advocated gay marriage, but that he "concealed his position for political expediency," according to MSNBC.

"Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a 'sacred union,'" according to Axelrod, who notes that Obama struggled with the "compromised" position, and "routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews."

When Obama sought the presidency in 2008, the GOP called him out for a 1996 questionnaire completed while Obama was an Illinois senator in which he wrote that he favored legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit them.

"I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate," Obama told BuzzFeed. "The old questionnaire … is an example of struggling with what was a real issue at the time, which is, how do you make sure that people’s rights are enjoyed and these religious sensitivities were taken into account?"

During his first presidential campaign, Obama continued to oppose gay marriage, citing his Christian faith. Once elected, he modified that position to "evolving."

Obama’s views began to "evolve" more rapidly following Vice President Joe Biden's appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press" in May 2012, during which he said he was "absolutely comfortable" with marriage equality — an unexpected utterance, MSNBC reported.

Three days later — citing his wife and daughters’ influence — Obama publicly declared his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.

But according to Axelrod, Obama made that decision five months before Biden’s "Meet the Press" appearance.

"If Obama’s views were 'evolving' publicly, they were fully evolved behind closed doors," according to Axelrod’s memoir.

"The president was champing at the bit to announce his support for the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed — and having watched him struggle with this issue for years, I was ready, too."

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President Barack Obama says his former senior political adviser David Axelrod, who in a new memoir writes that for most of his political career Obama intentionally misled the public about his support for gay marriage, had "mixed up" the president's personal feelings and political position.
obama, axelrod, believer, gay marriage, civil unions, politics
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2015-18-11
Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 08:18 AM
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