President Obama said in an interview published Wednesday that he never intentionally deceived voters on his stance on gay marriage — that his former adviser, David Axelrod, was confusing his personal views with his policy platforms.
Mr. Axelrod was “mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there.”
Mr. Obama clarified his position on gay marriage has “evolved” over the years, from supporting it on a 1996 questionnaire, to opposing it in the U.S. Senate and during his early time as president, to supporting it once again.
“These are the kinds of things you learn as you move forward in public life: that sometimes you can’t split the difference,” he said, BuzzFeed reported. “That sometimes you just have to be very clear that this is what’s right.”
Mr. Obama outright contested the characterization made by Mr. Axelrod that he purposely misled voters in 2008 by opposing gay marriage.
He said he thought at that time that civil unions were “a sufficient way of squaring the circle,” but that “the pain and the sense of stigma that was being placed on same-sex couples who are [my] friends” led to a mind-shift.
“I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate,” Mr. Obama said, in BuzzFeed. “The old questionnaire … is an example of struggling with what was a real issue at the time which is, how do you make sure that people’s rights are enjoyed and these religious sensitivities were taken into account?”
• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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