Excellent job by the Blade’s Chris Johnson in trying to get the White House to explain why the President was for marriage equality in 1996, but now isn’t.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday declined to directly address questions about President Obama’s early support for same-sex marriage and whether the president might again embrace that position before the 2012 election.
In response to questions from the Washington Blade on the president’s 1996 statement favoring marriage rights for same-sex couples, Gibbs noted he wasn’t working for Obama at that time and said he could only restate the president’s current position.
“I was not with the president in 1996,” Gibbs said. “I was younger and thinner back then — same shoe size. I would simply say that throughout the campaign of 2004 and the campaign of 2008, he’s made his position clear on that.”
Pressed on whether Obama had a “political motivation” for changing his position on marriage equality, Gibbs deferred to his previous answer.
UPDATE from Joe:The Blade provided a transcript of the exchange. I love how Chris again reads Obama’s exact position:
Washington Blade: Robert, I want to follow-up on the issue of marriage and the president’s 1996 statement. I’ll read it again: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Why has the president abandoned this position?
Robert Gibbs: I can simply — I was not with the president in 1996. I was younger and thinner back then — same shoe size. I would simply say that throughout the campaign of 2004 and the campaign of 2008, he’s made his position clear on that.
Blade: Was there a political motivation for the president to drop his support for same-sex marriage as he pursued higher office?
Gibbs: Again, I would refer you to my previous answer.
Blade: I have a follow-up question.
Gibbs: That’s two, actually, but go ahead. We’ll — I’ll entertain the second.
Blade: Will the president re-claim his support for same-sex marriage before the 2012 election?
Gibbs: [Laughs] I’m not in the business of predicting. I think we’ve seen this president be clearly committed to issues of equality and justice. That’s why — I can’t speak to 2012. I can speak to 2011 as a year in which a policy like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will end.
Seriously, that “I was not with the president in 1996” answer is painfully lame.
Igor Volsky got the video:
Look, we all know Obama made a political calculation by backing away from his earlier support for marriage equality. The White House should own up to it. This issue isn’t going away. Jim Messina needs a better answer when the campaign starts — and the President needs to re-evolve to his 1996 support for marriage (or at least stop defending DOMA.)