Wed, May 9, 2012
In an interview with Robin Roberts this afternoon, President Obama publicly announced his support for marriage equality.
According to the White House website, President Obama’s record on this issue is as follows:
- On September 20, 2011, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finally and formally repealed.
- President Obama has expressed his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.
- The President signed the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) have been met, ending the discriminatory law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.
- Signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 providing funding and statutory authorities for the settlement agreements reached in the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans; the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers; and four separate water rights suits, brought by Native American tribes.
- The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.
- The President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the HHS Secretary to ensure that those hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds will give gay and lesbian patients and their families the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve in difficult times, as well as widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, and others whom otherwise may not have been able to receive visits from good friends and loved ones who are not immediate relatives, or select them to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacitation.
- The President signed into law the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act which included the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
- President Obama signed a memorandum expanding federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees.
- President Obama pushed for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in his first State of the Union address, and followed through to sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.
- The President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers.
Political Punch: Timeline of Obama’s ‘Evolving’ on Same-Sex Marriage
FEBRUARY 1996: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” reads a typed, signed statement from then-Illinois state senate candidate Obama in response to a questionnaire by the Chicago LGBT newspaper “Outlines.” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer later publicly disavowed the statement, claiming in June 2011 that the questionnaire was “actually filled out by someone else.”
OCTOBER 2004: “What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting,” then-U.S. Senate candidate Obama said in an interview with WTTW Chicago public television.
“That doesn’t mean that that necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to civil unions. What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that, I think, need to be preserved, but I also think we need to make sure that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place.
“I don’t think marriage is a civil right,” Obama said when asked whether there’s an inherent right to marry.
OCTOBER 2010: “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,” President Obama said during an interview with liberal bloggers. “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.”
DECEMBER 2010: “My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have,” Obama said in response to a question from ABC’s Jake Tapper at a White House press conference.
“I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.
JUNE 2011: “The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it. The country is evolving on this, and he is evolving on it,” Pfeiffer told progressive activists at the Net Roots Nation conference.
JUNE 2011: “I think it’s important for us to work through these issues because each community is going to be different, each state is going to be different,” Obama said when asked during a White House news conference about New York becoming the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage.
“I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American,” he said. “And I think that principle will win out. It’s not going to be perfectly smooth, and it turns out that the president — I’ve discovered since I’ve been in this office — can’t dictate precisely how this process moves.”
OCTOBER 2011: “I’m still working on it,” Obama said when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos whether he would move from supporting civil unions for same-sex couples to supporting gay marriage.
“I probably won’t make news right now, George. But I think that there’s no doubt that as I see friends, families children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”