The Obama campaign has announced its opposition to the marriage amendment that will be on the November ballot in Minnesota that would restrict marriage only to opposite-sex couples there, echoing a theme from its earlier opposition to such an amendment in North Carolina that will appear on the May primary ballot.
If there was any question whether the March 16 statement by North Carolina Obama campaign spokesman Cameron French stating the Obama campaign's specific opposition to the marriage amendment there was an intentional move to take a stand on the issue in the state, today's statement would appear to answer that.
According to a statement released today by Obama for America Minnesota Communications Director Kristin Sosanie, she said, "While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples."
In the statement provided to Metro Weekly, she continued, "That's what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do -- it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples -- and that's why the President does not support it."
The language is the same as that used by French in March regarding the North Carolina proposal.
The proposed Minnesota marriage amendment reads: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota." Unlike the proposed North Carolina amendment, it does not address recognition of other relationships like civil unions or domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples cannot marry currently, however, in either state.
In October 2011, when President Obama addressed the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner, he referenced the amendments -- but not by name.
Of opposition to LGBT equality, he said then, "And I don't have to tell you, there are those who don't want to just stand in our way but want to turn the clock back; who want to return to the days when gay people couldn't serve their country openly; who reject the progress that we've made; who, as we speak, are looking to enshrine discrimination into state laws and constitutions -- efforts that we've got to work hard to oppose, because that's not what America should be about."
Statements made by Obama and his spokespeople in 2009 also avoided specific mention of either Maine or Washington, both of which had referenda on the ballots relating to same-sex couples' relationship recognition, keeping instead to language similar to the first sentence of the statements by French and Sosanie.
In Maine, the 2009 referendum reversed the state's legislature, which had passed a marriage equality bill. In Washington, the 2009 referendum upheld the state's legislature, which had passed a bill granting comprehensive domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples. The same also had been true about statements made before today in response to questions about North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland or Washington -- all of which could have marriage initiatives or referenda on their ballots this year.
In 2008, however, then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama did specifically oppose California's Proposition 8, which was then pending before voters. He wrote to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, "As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. ... [T]hat is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states."
Today's news comes even as White House press secretary Jay Carney recently, in response to a question from Metro Weekly, stated that First Lady Michelle Obama -- in referencing how Supreme Court decisions will impact whether people can "love whomever we choose" -- was not making a comment about marriage equality. Her husband, though "evolving" in his views on marriage equality, opposed marriage equality and supported civil unions in his 2008 election campaign.
Although Obama has stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court challenges as president, he has not stated support for marriage equality or any other change in his evolution during this year's re-election campaign.