ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports:
Tomorrow night President Obama will ask the gay and lesbian community for their support in 2012 at a fundraiser in New York, a state that is close to legalizing gay marriage, even though his position on same-sex marriage is still “ constantly evolving.”
Seven months ago Obama said that, while he supports civil unions, the issue of gay marriage was one that he continues to “debate.” He did not, however, say when he plans to take a definitive stance on whether same-sex couples should marry.
“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,” Obama said at a news conference in December. “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.”
According to the White House, the president is not expected to endorse same sex marriage at tomorrow’s $1,250 per plate “Gala with the Gay Community,” the first fundraising event with the LGBT community held by a sitting president.
“What I know is what his position was during the campaign and what it is now. He’s been very clear about it. He was very clear in the campaign. He’s very clear about the fact that his position is evolving. I don’t have anything to add to that,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday. “I think you know that this president is very supportive of and strong on LGBT rights. His record is significant with regard to that.”
The administration, and Obama’s campaign strategists, point to the president’s record of support for the LGBT community, highlighting his repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which banned openly gay men and women from serving in the military, and his decision to withdraw legal support for the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex unions.
“Let’s recap what the president has done on this issue. He’s argued from the beginning for equal legal rights, equal benefits. He’s brought that policy to the federal government. He obviously fought long and hard to end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” Obama’s top strategist David Axelrod said Monday on MSNBC. “He supported the rights of states to make these decisions, as New York is doing probably even as we speak. So, there’s been significant progress under his administration. And he’s pointed the way forward on this issue.”