Ever since he announced his candidacy for president, Obama has frustrated both sides of the issue, opposing "gay marriage" but also opposing every effort to keep it from being legalized. For instance, he opposed California Proposition 8 and he wants to see the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- which gives states leeway on the issue and defines marriage in the traditional sense in federal law -- overturned.
Obama was asked what his position is on the issue, being that a lot has changed since he became president. The number of states that recognize "gay marriage" has jumped from two to five since he was inaugurated.
"I am a strong supporter of civil unions," he said, according to a transcript. "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.
"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. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents."
Both conservatives and liberals leaders have wondered whether Obama privately supports "gay marriage" and whether his public opposition to it is purely political. The Prop 8 case certainly has put him in a corner. When a federal judge overturned Prop 8 in August, the White House released a statement saying Obama "has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory." But the White House also said he remains opposed to "gay marriage."
In telling the bloggers he remains opposed to "marriage" for same-sex couples, Obama said, "... so while I'm not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it's fair to say that it's something that I think a lot about."
He continued, "That's probably the best you'll do out of me today.... The one thing I will say today is I think it's pretty clear where the trendlines are going."
A growing number of legislators in Obama's own party disagree with him. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., told a homosexual group in 2009, "We must not rest until we have marriage in all 50 of these United States."
Opponents of "gay marriage" warn that its legalization will negatively affect all of society, impacting everything from the tax-exempt status of religious organizations to the way private businesses are run to what is taught in elementary schools. Schools in states where it is legal are allowed to teach that "gay marriage" is normal.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
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