President Barack Obama will not say if he believes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is constitutional and could possibly "evolve" on marriage equality. That's according to the President, who met late Wednesday with progressive bloggers at the White House.
Obama was responding to questions from AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay. The other bloggers invited to the meeting in the Roosevelt Room were John Amato of Crooks & Liars, Duncan Black aka "Atrios" from Eschaton, Barbara Morrill aka BarbinMD of DailyKos and Oliver Willis of OliverWillis.com. The questions from Joe Sudbay also marked the first time the President took a "question from a representative of the LGBT media since being elected", reports The Advocate.
Q So I have another gay question. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: It’s okay, man. (Laughter.)
Q And this one is on the issue of marriage. Since you’ve become President, a lot has changed. More states have passed marriage equality laws. This summer a federal judge declared DOMA unconstitutional in two different cases. A judge in San Francisco declared Prop 8 was unconstitutional. And I know during the campaign you often said you thought marriage was the union between a man and a woman, and there -- like I said, when you look at public opinion polling, it’s heading in the right direction. We’ve actually got Republicans like Ted Olson and even Ken Mehlman on our side now. So I just really want to know what is your position on same-sex marriage?
THE PRESIDENT: Joe, I do not intend to make big news sitting here with the five of you, as wonderful as you guys are. (Laughter.) But I’ll say this --
Q I just want to say, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you this question.
THE PRESIDENT: Of course.
Q People in our community are really desperate to know.
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a fair question to ask. I think that -- I am a strong supporter of civil unions. As you say, I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.
But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.
And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about. That’s probably the best you’ll do out of me today. (Laughter.)
Q It is an important issue, and I think that --
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s an entirely fair question to ask.
Q And part of it is that you can’t be equal in this country if the very core of who you are as a person and the love -- the person you love is not -- if that relationship isn’t the same as everybody else’s, then we’re not equal. And I think that a lot of -- particularly in the wake of the California election on Prop 8, a lot of gay people realized we’re not equal. And I think that that’s -- that’s been part of the change in the --
THE PRESIDENT: Prop 8, which I opposed.
Q Right. I remember you did. You sent the letter and that was great. I think that the level of intensity in the LGBT community changed after we lost rights in that election. And I think that’s a lot of where the community is right now.
THE PRESIDENT: The one thing I will say today is I think it’s pretty clear where the trendlines are going.
Q The arc of history.
THE PRESIDENT: The arc of history.
The President also spoke to the "disillusionment and disappointment" that some in the gay community feel toward his Administration. It is not "justified", he said. "We have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any President in history. I’ve appointed more openly gay people to more positions in this government than any President in history. We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control."
President Obama reiterated that he believes DADT is "wrong" but again declined to offer an opinion on the constitutionality of the law, which is currently being defended by Department of Justice after a federal court ruled it was unconstitutional.
"It’s not a simple yes or no question," said Obama. "Because I’m not sitting on the Supreme Court. And I’ve got to be careful, as president of the United States, to make sure that when I’m making pronouncements about laws that Congress passed I don’t do so just off the top of my head.”
Congrats to Joe and AMERICABlog on getting the President on the record on our issues. Read the full interview with Joe Sudbay at AMERICABlog Gay. The full transcript of the entire meeting is on the main Americablog site.