The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obama and Clinton love to celebrate gay marriage now. Here’s how late they were to the party.

US President Barack Obama (R) and US Vice President Joe Biden (L) confer after President Obama told a heckler to leave the East Room as he hosts a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month, at the White House Wednesday. (EPA/Dennis Brack / POOL)
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Between LGBT Pride Month and the impending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, politicians have plenty of opportunities to speak on gay rights this week. Hillary Clinton's campaign is list-building off the upcoming decision...

...while President Obama spoke at an LGBT Pride event at the White House Wednesday, where he noted that the number of states in which same-sex couples can marry has grown from two when he took office to 37 today.

"A decade ago politicians ran against LGBT rights; today, they're running towards them," he said.

What was left unsaid, of course, was that he and Clinton are among those who used to run against same-sex marriage but have since changed their tune.

And even as they've each positioned themselves as leaders and champions on the issue, they are hardly pioneers in their own parties. In fact, they jumped on-board well after gay marriage attained overwhelming majority support among Democrats.

Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, and Clinton in 2013, half a decade after a majority of Democrats already supported it in public polling. But you wouldn't know about that from hearing them talk about just how much the issue means to them today.

In fairness, politicians are generally slower to "evolve" on issues like this than the general public. But given how much Clinton and Obama love to play up their support for gay marriage today (and even give us little history lessons), it's worth putting these things in context.

It's also further proof of just how quickly public opinion flipped on the issue, which in turn forced politicians who've been in politics for any significant amount of time to change their position. It could be some time before a pro-same-sex marriage presidential candidate doesn't have a flip-flop on the issue on their record.

On Thursday, Clinton tweeted a 1993 #tbt Throwback Thursday about healthcare after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act.

Don't expect a similar '90s (or even '00s) throwback when the court rules on marriage, though. Her old position that marriage "has always been between a man and a woman" hasn't aged as well among her Democratic base.