How Obama’s stance has changed

A look back at President Obama’s evolving views on gay marriage:

MARCH 7, 2004

In answer to questions from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when he was an Illinois state senator: “I support civil unions to guarantee basic rights to same-sex couples. I do not believe that federal recognition of same-sex marriage is practical because of strong political and religious resistance. I believe that this matter is best left to the states.”

SEPT. 25, 2004

●During a taping of WBBM-AM’s “At Issue”: “I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

APRIL 2, 2008

●From an MSNBC “Hardball with Chris Matthews” interview: “You know, I’m not in favor of gay marriage, but I’m in favor of a very strong civil union. Right now states, even where you’ve got civil unions, still aren’t getting the same benefits at the federal level. So the federal government just doesn’t recognize them. And that’s about 1,200 laws, rights and benefits that are not being given to same-sex couples. I think it’s very important that those laws apply equally.”

JAN. 28, 2010

●During a town hall meeting at the University of Tampa: “Look, as I said last night, my belief is, is that a basic principle in our Constitution is that if you’re obeying the law, if you’re following the rules, that you should be treated the same, regardless of who you are. I think that principle applies to gay and lesbian couples. So at the federal level, one of the things that we’re trying to do is to make sure that partnerships are recognized for purposes of benefits so that hospital visitation, for example, is something that is permitted, that Social Security benefits or pension benefits or others, that same-sex couples are recognized in all those circumstances.”

DEC. 22, 2010

During a news conference in the White House: “Now, with respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I’ve spoken about this recently. As I’ve said, you know, my feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.

I have friends, I have people who work for me who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions, and they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.

At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have. And I think — and I think that’s the right thing to do.

But I recognize that, from their perspective, it is not enough. And I think this is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.”

MAY 9, 2012

●From an ABC News interview with Robin Roberts: “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

— Lucy Shackelford
and Madonna Lebling