Tracy Baim, the co-founder and publisher of Windy City Times, sent out a statement about Dan Pfeiffer’s allegations that the Obama’s 1996 survey on marriage wasn’t real. Windy City News stands by its reporting:
Despite a statement by President 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 Windy City Times) and IMPACT, a now-defunct gay political action committee. They are online at are available available at http://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 about the surveys by Joy Gray of the Daily Kos, 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.
To Outlines he 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 here.
More background is available here
The surveys weren’t released by Windy City Times until January of 2009. There was no real debate about this during the 2008 cycle. We spent the 2008 election thinking Obama supported civil unions and opposed same-sex marriage, publicly at least. Back in 2008, civil unions was where most of the Democratic candidates were. It was more-or-less the acceptable and safe political position. Prop. 8 changed that.
The President should evolve already — or re-evolve, as the case may be. This issue isn’t going away. And, it’s hard to grasp how he can attend the big gay DNC fundraiser in NY next week and not announce his support for marriage. It’s really hard to understand how all the donors to that event aren’t going to be demanding that the President evolve on marriage. They should demand it before they write their checks. But, too often, access and cocktail parties trump equality.