Geof Stone on Obama's Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

Same-Sex Marriage and Interracial Marriage: What Do Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln Have in Common?
Geoffrey R. Stone
The Huffington Post
August 12, 2010

In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama expressed his "unequivocal support for gay marriage." Then he changed his mind. Since bursting onto the national stage, he has repeatedly insisted that he opposes gay marriage.

Indeed, only a day after last week's decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which held Proposition 8 unconstitutional, the President's spokesman reminded the public in no uncertain terms that "the President does oppose same-sex marriage."

At the same time, though, President Obama does support "equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians" -- as long as they are not married. That is, he supports civil unions. O.K., but why does he oppose same-sex marriage?

The President has suggested that his religious beliefs have shaped his views about same-sex marriage. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he explained: "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."

Did Mr. Obama's religious beliefs change between 1996 and 2008? If so, I'd be curious to know how and why. (I understand, of course, that this should be none of my business, and I feel somewhat creepy even posing the question. But if the President is, in fact, relying even in part on his religious beliefs to justify official government policy, then he has made it my business.)

Faculty: 
Geoffrey R. Stone