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Obama spokesman denies 1996 gay survey
Windy City Media Group Press Release, June 17, 2010 (updated June 21)
2011-06-17

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Despite a statement by President Barack Obama's White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer June 17 that a 1996 survey response was not written by the then-candidate for Illinois state Senate, Windy City Times newspaper stands by the reporting on Obama's early support of gay marriage in at least two gay surveys.

The surveys were from a 1996 response to Outlines newspaper ( which now owns and publishes Windy City Times ) and IMPACT, a now-defunct gay political action committee. They are online and available at bit.ly/gMBR4e and also printed in the 2010 book Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage, by Tracy Baim, publisher of Windy City Times.

Pfeiffer, asked by Joy Gray of the Daily Kos about the surveys, during the Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis, said, "If you actually go back and look, that questionnaire was actually filled out by someone else, not the president." This is the first time a claim has been made that Obama did not complete the surveys himself, even though his signature is on the typed one sent to Outlines, and the IMPACT survey appears to be completed in his own writing.

After a day-long firestorm about the denial, Shin Inouye, White House Office of Communications director of specialty media, issued the following statement about the comments: "Dan was not familiar with the history of the questionnaire that was brought up today, but the President's views are clear. He has long supported equal rights and benefits for gay and lesbian couples and since taking office he has signed into law the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, signed into law the hate-crimes bill, made the decision not to defend section three of DOMA and expanded federal benefits for same sex partners of federal employees."

The answer did not clarify what Pfeiffer meant in his comments, and Obama never has challenged the reporting of the surveys, first referred to in 1996.

On Monday, June 20, in answer to gay press questions at the White House daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he believed that Obama did in fact sign the 1996 Outlines questionnaire.

To Outlines Obama typed in the survey response, dated Feb. 15, 1996: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." It was faxed from the law firm Obama worked for at the time. And it was reported in Outlines newspaper that he backed gay marriage, something his campaign never denied in 1996. He would have had a very small campaign staff, so it was unlikely he had someone else complete the form. In fact he went to the trouble of typing full answers when the form was actually able to be completed as a Q&A. Even if someone else completed the form, Obama signed it, and never denied subsequent reports of its content.

In January of 1996 he filled out the IMPACT questionnaire, and it appears to be in his own writing, and uses the first-person "I" throughout. While the IMPACT questions were a bit more complicated, Obama did say he would oppose any attempts to outlaw same-gender marriage, by supporting a resolution stating "the state should not interfere with same-gender couples who chose [ sic ] to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of civil marriage."

The complete surveys are online at: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php?APUB=wct&ADATE=2009-01-14&AGALLERY=obama

More background is available here:

http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=30274

Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage is available at Women & Children First Bookstore and Unabridged Bookstore. It is also available through Amazon.com ( link tinyurl.com/ObamaGayBook ) and Kindle and iPad.

The website for the book is www.ObamaAndTheGays.com .


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