WASHINGTON — Barack Obama is disputing a longtime aide’s view that the president feigned opposition to same-sex marriage, compromising his true beliefs out of concern it could hurt him with voters.
Former Obama strategist David Axelrod writes in a new book that Obama modified his public position to say he supported civil unions but not gay marriage.
Axelrod says that was because his political advisers told him supporting gay marriages could hurt him politically.
But Obama told BuzzFeed News in an interview posted late Tuesday night that Axelrod is “mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue.”
Axelrod wrote that Obama begrudgingly followed his advice that he would face strong opposition from African American religious leaders and others if he let it be known he supported gay marriage.
“Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod wrote in the memoir “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” released Tuesday.
Article continues belowAxelrod’s disclosure affirmed what was widely suspected for years: that Obama’s May 2012 announcement that he supported gay marriage came long after the president had personally come to that conclusion.
The year earlier, Obama and the White House had started saying his position was “evolving,” leading many to believe he was holding off on a public embrace of gay marriage for fear it could damage his re-election prospects.
“If Obama’s views were ‘evolving’ publicly, they were fully evolved behind closed doors,” Axelrod wrote.