WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deflected a series of questions Thursday on whether President Obama is deferring his role as party leader by withholding support for same-sex marriage as other Democrats vocally support it.
Under questioning from the Washington Blade, Carney dodged in terms of what the president’s lack of support for same-sex marriage means for party leadership and said Obama isn’t involved in Democratic Party platform development.
“I can tell you that he is not engaged in the very early stages of what I understand to be platform development, and I would refer you simply to discussions the folks you mentioned are having,” Carney said. “But the president’s position hasn’t changed, so I have no new announcements to make in on it.”
Democratic National Convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday announced support for including marriage equality in the Democratic Party platform. In an exclusive Washington Blade report, 22 U.S. senators last week announced they support the idea of including such a plank in the platform. Meanwhile, Obama has been evolving on same-sex marriage for nearly 17 months.
Pressed by the Blade on whether Obama is missing an opportunity to lead not just the Democratic Party, but the country as a whole, Carney stood his ground, saying, “I appreciate the question. I just don’t have anything new to report to you on it.”
Obama first said he could “evolve” to support marriage equality in October 2010 during an interview with progressive bloggers in response to a question from AMERICAblog’s Joe Sudbay.
In 1996, Obama said he supported marriage equality in a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times, saying, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” but that position later changed.
In response to further questioning, Carney declined to identify what is preventing Obama from completing this evolution, or whether fear of political backlash or the president’s faith is playing a role in blocking him from announcing support.
“Look, I will leave it to president — perhaps he wasn’t about asked about this — maybe the next time he gives a press conference, one of you can ask him about it,” Carney said. “It’s entirely up to you if you want to be told, which you might be, that he doesn’t have any news to make on it, but I really have no update for you.”