President Obama concealed his support for same-sex couples' marriage rights during the 2008 presidential campaign for political reasons, his former political adviser David Axelrod wrote in his new book released Tuesday.
Obama admitted he was "bullshitting" after saying he opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds after a campaign event at the time, Axelrod wrote in Believer: My Forty Years in Politics. Axelrod wrote that he knew Obama supported same-sex marriage at the time.
These contents of the book were first reported by Time. Axelrod said the future president hid his true beliefs for political reasons:
Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a 'sacred union.'
He also wrote that Obama felt "a tug between his personal views and the politics of gay marriage":
As a candidate for the state senate in 1996 from liberal Hyde Park, he signed a questionnaire promising his support for legalization. I had no doubt that this was his heartfelt belief. "I just don't feel my marriage is somehow threatened by the gay couple next door," he told me. Yet he also knew his view was way out in front of the public's. Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a "sacred union." Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position. He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.
By 2010, Obama was "champing at the bit" to come forward with his support, Axelrod wrote, even though aide Jim Messina told him that "it could cost you a couple of battleground states; North Carolina, for one."
In 2011, the administration said it would no longer legally fight to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act.