President Obama Suggests States Banning Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional (VIDEO)

FRONTLINE "Dreams of Obama"

On May 9, 2012, President Barack Obama “came out” in support of marriage equality. His position was revealed a week after Vice President Joe Biden endorsed same-sex marriage on Sunday morning show “Meet the Press.”

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday. (ABC)

Watch President Obama’s historic interview:

President Obama’s “evolution” has been ongoing. A timeline from ABC News and other sources:

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.” (ABC News)

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.” (Video)

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.” (ABC News)

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. (ABC News)

June 2011: White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that Obama didn’t fill out the survey saying he was for same sex marriage. The Daily Kos challenged Pfeiffer on this and asked him if it was a fake questionnaire.

“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. (Video)

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.” (ABC News)

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.” (ABC News)

May 2012

The big “coming out” that marked his full evolution. “I’ve evolved.” (Source: our memories) He did say that he felt that states should continue to decide whether to discriminate against their citizens or not. (Wall Street Journal)

“What I’m saying is that different states are coming to different conclusions. But this debate is taking place — at a local level. And I think the whole country is evolving and changing. And — you know, one of the things that I’d like to see is — that a conversation continue in a respectful way.” (Huffington Post)

November 2012:

The President made history when he mentioned gay marriage in his inaugural address.

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall,” he said, linking the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement, the battle for black rights in the South and the gay protest against police harassment in New York as equal steps in the nation’s march toward equality. (LA Times)

February 2013:

The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), calling it unconstitutional.

And that brings us to now. Today. The President has further evolved on marriage equality. In an interview released on Wednesday, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked him whether or not gay marriage is a constitutional right.

“Well, I’ve gotta tell you that — in terms of practical politics, what I’ve seen is a healthy debate taking place state by state, and not every state has the exact same attitudes and cultural mores. And I — you know, my thinking was that this is traditionally a state issue and — that it will work itself out,” the president said. “On the other hand — what I also believe is that the core principle that people don’t get discriminated against — that’s one of our core values. And it’s in our Constitution.” [Source]

Stephanopoulos elaborated and asked the president if he believes that a state’s gay marriage ban could be constitutional.

“Well, I can’t, personally. I cannot,” Obama responded. “That’s part of the reason I said, ultimately, I think that, same-sex couples should be able to marry. That’s my personal position. And, frankly, that’s the position that’s reflected — in the briefs that we filed — in the Supreme Court.” [Source]

The Supreme Court will be hearing marriage equality cases this month, including the Obama Administration’s request to overturn DOMA.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” President Obama said at his inaugural address in November. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

This president has meant so much to so many groups of people. His support of oppressed populations is unwavering and, because he’s a young man, he has a lot of fight left in him. He will continue his activism long after he leaves the Oval Office. President Obama has been the catalyst for progressive change, which is what we asked of him when we elected him. It’s fitting that as our nation and our mindsets evolve, we have a leader who has evolved in a natural way right along with us.


I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blogFind me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.