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Barack Obama’s ever evolving views on gay marriage

Updated: June 11, 2012 10:16AM

1996: In his first run for office, state Senate candidate Barack Obama responds to a North Side gay magazine’s issues survey with a letter that includes his support for gay marriage. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight effort to prohibit such marriages,” Obama wrote in the signed letter.

December 2003: While running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, then state Sen. Obama said in a questionnaire he was against the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which created a federal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

September 2004: During his U.S. Senate campaign, Obama said as a Christian he believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, although he supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. “I’m a Christian, and so although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman,” Obama said during a taping of WBBM-AM’s “At Issue.”

2007: While running for president, Obama joined the other Democratic candidates in calling for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a major issue in the gay community. He stated his support for a repeal in a questionnaire prepared for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights group. An Obama spokesman said the candidate felt the act “was a poorly conceived law and, in 2004, after hearing from gay friends who relayed to Obama how hurtful it was for the bill to be law, he supported its repeal.”

December 2008: President-elect Obama draws criticism from liberals and gay activists for choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Warren opposes gay marriage and helped pass California’s Proposition 8, which eliminated gay marriage. Obama defended the choice, saying ”It’s no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. What I’ve also said is it is important for America to come together, even though we have disagreements on certain social issues.” But one leading gay activist in Illinois said “the president-elect just doesn’t get it.”

May 9, 2012: President Obama comes out in support of gay marriage, saying he was influenced in part by his young daughters, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, and first lady Michelle Obama. “In the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people,” the president said in an interview with ABC News. “That’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”

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