Obama was running for the Illinois state Senate in Chicago in February 1996 when he answered a questionnaire from a gay-oriented newspaper, Outlines, on gay rights issues. One of his answers was, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
The Windy City Times, which later acquired Outlines, said it interviewed Obama in 2004, when he was a state legislator running for the U.S. Senate. In a January 2009 article recapping the interview, the newspaper quoted him as saying he no longer supported same-sex marriage “primarily just as a strategic issue,” and not because he had changed his philosophy.
Equality California, the state’s largest gay rights group, submitted almost 100,000 signatures on petitions urging the Obama administration to file arguments against Prop. 8 in the court case. The administration did not respond by Walker’s Feb. 3 deadline.
The White House did not reply to questions about how Obama’s religious interpretation of marriage might have changed over the years.
Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, dismissed the president’s shifting stance as “pure politics.”
“When he was running for office in Chicago and wanted strong support from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, he made it clear he supported full equality,” Kors said. “Since he has continued to seek higher office, he has changed his position for the worse.
“It’s especially appalling that he is citing his religious beliefs as grounds for his public government position on the civil marriage issue because he knows better,” Kors said.