Obama on Gay Marriage: "Attitudes Evolve, Including Mine"
During a meeting with liberal bloggers at the White House yesterday, President Obama seemed to signal that he is open to reversing his opposition to same-sex marriage, according to transcripts posted by two of the participants.
Pressed on his position on same-sex marriage, the president said, "while I'm not prepared to reverse myself here...I think it's fair to say that it's something that I think a lot about."
"I am a strong supporter of civil unions," he said. "As you say, I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage."
Continued the president, according to the transcripts: "But I also think you're right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships."
Pressed on the notion that gay people "can't be equal in this country" if their relationships don't have the same recognition as straight people, the president said, "The one thing I will say today is I think it's pretty clear where the trendlines are going."
Mr. Obama backed same-sex marriage in 1996 but has opposed it since.
The president also addressed the effort to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, which he opposes. He said there is a strategy in place to try to repeal the policy in the lame-duck session of Congress. He said he hoped the gay-rights group that financed a legal challenge to the policy, the Log Cabin Republicans, would work to convince a handful of Republicans to join Democrats in laying the groundwork for repeal.
The Obama Justice Department is fighting against the effort to repeal the policy in the courts. The president argues it should be overturned legislatively.
Mr. Obama added that the gay community's "disillusionment and disappointment" with him is not justified, arguing that "we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any president in history." He pointed to policies on hospital visitation, appointments of gay people to government positions and the "don't ask, don't tell" push as evidence.
"Now, I say that as somebody who appreciates that the LGBT community very legitimately feels these issues in very personal terms," continued the president. "So it's not my place to counsel patience. One of my favorite pieces of literature is 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' and Dr. King had to battle people counseling patience and time. And he rightly said that time is neutral. And things don't automatically get better unless people push to try to get things better."
He added, "So I don't begrudge the LGBT community pushing, but the flip side of it is that this notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong."
Mr. Obama recorded an "It Gets Better" video supporting gay youth targeted by bullies for their sexuality last week.
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