Obama’s flip-flop on gay marriage: What changed between 1996 and 2011?

Obama's 1996 Questionairre

Obama's 1996 Questionairre WINDY CITY TIMES

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged the subject of same-sex marriage at Monday’s press briefing when Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson grilled him on President Barack Obama’s apparent flip-flop on gay marriage.

In 1996 as President Obama was running for the Illinois State Senate, he sent a letter to a local newspaper, The Outlines (now The Windy City Times), highlighting his positions on LGBT rights.

In the letter released by the The Windy City Times, Obama wrote: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”


Obama's 1996 letter, click to enlarge.

“That’s not the president’s current position. Has he backtracked on a earlier commitment he made to gay and lesbian Americans?,” asked Johnson.

Gibbs dodged the question, saying “I think there’s a whole host of issues that I would direct you to the campaign on — on different questionnaires and I would again reiterate what the president has said recently on that issue.”

Asked whether he questions the accuracy of the 1996 questionnaire response, Gibbs replied, “Again, I’m happy to send you the several thousand clips of which went around during the course of 2008 on a whole host of those issues.”

Since his presidential campaign, Obama has publicly opposed same-sex marriage, and the White House has repeatedly said the president’s position has not changed.

But in a December interview with Kerry Eleveld for The Advocate, on the subject of marriage equality, the President said his “attitudes are evolving.”

“Like a lot of people, I’m wrestling with this,” he said.

A number of gay rights supporters have called on Obama to declare support for same-sex marriage during the State of the Union address, reports the Blade.

In an editorial in The New York Times on Sunday, columnist and “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage urged the President to address marriage equality in tonight’s speech.

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