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Obama's attitude toward same-sex marriage is evolving
News update posted Nov. 1, 2010
by Rex Wockner
2010-11-01

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President Barack Obama's attitude toward same-sex marriage is evolving, he said in an Oct. 27 meeting with five progressive bloggers, including openly gay Joe Sudbay from AMERICAblog.

"Joe, I do not intend to make big news sitting here with the five of you, as wonderful as you guys are," Obama said, according to the official transcript. "But I'll say this. ... 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, and I care about them deeply. And 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.

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 ... the arc of history."

Obama also said he has a strategy aimed at getting the Senate to authorize repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell after the November elections. The House of Representatives already has done so, but the Senate refused earlier this year.

"I'm not going to tip my hand now, but there is a strategy," Obama said. "I was very deliberate in working with the Pentagon so that I've got the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs being very clear about the need to end this policy. That is part of a strategy that I have been pursuing since I came into office. And my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year. Now, as usual, I need 60 votes. So I think that, Joe, the folks that you need to be having a really good conversation with -- and I had that conversation with them directly yesterday, but you may have more influence than I do -- is making sure that all those Log Cabin Republicans who helped to finance this lawsuit ( that led to DADT being struck down as unconstitutional ) and who feel about this issue so passionately are working the handful of Republicans that we need to get this thing done."

Sudbay responded, "Yes, I don't have that relationship with them."

"I don't understand the logic of it," Obama replied. "You're financing a very successful, very effective legal strategy and yet the only real thing you need to do is make sure that we get two to five Republican votes in the Senate. And I said directly to the Log Cabin Republican who was here yesterday, I said: 'That can't be that hard. Get me those votes.'"

The president also said he doesn't think the disillusionment that LGBT people feel with him is "justified."

"Let me go to the larger issue, though, Joe, about disillusionment and disappointment," he said. "I guess my attitude is that we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any president in history. I've appointed more openly gay people to more positions in this government than any president in history. We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control, including, for example, hospital visitation. On Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I have been as systematic and methodical in trying to move that agenda forward as I could be given my legal constraints, given that Congress had explicitly passed a law designed to tie my hands on the issue. And so, I'll be honest with you, I don't think that the disillusionment is justified."

"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," Obama said.

Meanwhile, teenage activist Constance McMillen, who made national news when she was banned from taking her girlfriend to the high-school prom in Fulton, Miss., doesn't see it that way.

In an Oct. 29 video with other LGBT youth made for GetEQUAL,McMillen says to Obama: "You promised so many things whenever you started running and you're not coming through with these things, and people just, they don't know what to feel like anymore, and there's people that are taking their life. So, I think that it's time for you to take a stand."

Watch the full video at tinyurl.com/tttaso.


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