by Jeremy Diamond
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama didn’t actually evolve on same-sex marriage, according to one of Obama’s closest former top aides.
Obama had actually supported it for years, David Axelrod writes in his new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Poltics,” released Tuesday.
But Obama, Axelrod writes, opposed same-sex marriage during his 2008 presidential campaign and throughout most of his first term as President due to political concerns.
“Gay marriage was a particularly nagging issue. For as long as we had been working together, Obama had felt a tug between his personal views and the politics of gay marriage,” Axelrod writes. “Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union.'”
Obama started saying in 2010 that his views were evolving on the issue and in May 2012 Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, citing “the evolution that I went through.”
But privately, Axelrod wrote that Obama made no secret of his support for same-sex marriage.
“I just don’t feel my marriage is somehow threatened by the gay couple next door,” Obama said, according to Axelrod’s book.
In the chapter, in which he notes the “recurring tension between Obama the idealist and Obama the politician,” Axelrod writes that Obama’s public stance didn’t seem to sit well with him.
“Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod writes. “He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews. ‘I’m just not very good at bulls—ting,’ he said with a sigh after one such awkward exchange.”
Axelrod’s book only confirms previous reports that Obama had, in fact, supported gay marriage for a long time.
While running for his first term in the Illinois State Senate, Obama signed a questionnaire in which he answered that he “favored legalizing same-sex marraiges, and would fight to prohibit such marriages.” The questionnaire came to light in 2009, days before Obama’s inauguration.
“I had no doubt that this was his heartfelt belief,” Axelrod said of the questionnaire. “He also knew his view was way out in front of the public’s.”