US President Barack Obama officially endorsed same-sex marriage on Tuesday. Also on the president’s agenda for the day was once again flip-flopping on a major issue during an election year.
Explaining his recent change of heart to ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview taped Tuesday afternoon, President Obama says, “at a certain point 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.”
The commander-in-chief’s statement marks the first time that a US president has publically offered a stance favoring same-sex marriage while in office. It isn’t the first time Obama has explained his thoughts on the matter, though. In the past, however, the president took the opposing side.
“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama told CNN while campaigning for the 2008 presidential election. At the time, the then-senator also called the joining of two people “a sacred union” and suggested that it was important for him to see it that way as a practicing Christian.
In a report card released before that election by the Human Rights Campaign, the group also categorized Obama as opposed to same-sex marriages, instead saying that the candidate favored civil unions for couples. Speaking this week, however, the president once again relied on using his religion to explain his stance, albeit switching things up this time around.
“We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others,” the president said to ABC, referring to the first lady and himself, “but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”
Even if he refused to outright endorse same-sex marriage in the past, President Obama without a doubt tried his best to play it safe when speaking on the issue.
In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama explains, “It is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided…and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.”
Only two years earlier during a 2004 Illinois Senate Debate, Obama said, “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” adding, however, that he detests attacks on homosexuals in Americas. Although he went on record to say that “Most gays and lesbians are seeking basic recognition of their rights” and that “These are rights for everybody, not just some people,” the president’s stance on gay marriage until this week was one that opposed it.
Obama’s announcement came days after Vice President Joe Biden said he is “absolutely comfortable” with legalizing same-sex marriage.