Asked about "the president's views on the gay marriage bill in New York," White House press secretary Jay Carney started giving a series of answers in the Monday, June 20, press briefing that drew clear and unmistakable attention to a series of delicate political circumstances surrounding President Barack Obama and LGBT advocates who are looking for the president to support marriage equality.
The ongoing questions of whether and when there will be a vote in New York on the marriage equality bill that passed the General Assembly this past week is only the first of several complications for the president's well-established "evolving" position on marriage equality.
Additionally, on Friday, June 17, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer stated at Netroots Nation that then-state senate candidate Barack Obama had not filled out the oft-cited 1996 Outlines candidate questionnaire stating that he supported same-sex marriage.
Although the White House corrected the statement later that evening, with spokesman Shin Inouye telling Metro Weekly in a statement that "Dan was not familiar with the history of the questionnaire that was brought up today, but the President's views are clear," the issue had not been resolved.
On June 20, the Pfeiffer flub was raised again and, in response to a question from Metro Weekly about "whether or not the '96 survey was signed by Obama," Carney said, "It's my understanding that it was." That, according to Metro Weekly's review of available materials, is the first time the administration or campaign acknowledged that Obama had signed the survey stating support for "same-sex marriages."
Then, marriage questioning continued, as Carney was asked -- in light of Obama's attendance at this week's LGBT Leadership Council Gala campaign fundraiser in New York City and next week's LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House -- whether the president is "selling this audience short by saying he supports them and wants their money for his reelection campaign, but also saying at the same time he does not support their right to marry."
Although Carney responded that "this president is very supportive of and strong on LGBT rights and his record is significant with regard to that," he also noted that the president has "been very clear about his position on gay marriage" and "been very clear about how that position is evolving."
Pressed further, Carney was asked whether "the president will come to a conclusion on this evolution by Thursday."
Carney said, "I don't anticipate that."
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Watch part of the June 20 questioning below, or read the marriage questions and responses below the jump.
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 20, 2011
BY PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
Q -- the President’s views on the gay marriage bill in New York, does he have any -- has he looked into --
MR. CARNEY: I haven’t heard any expressed about that. I have obviously -- he’s obviously addressed this at the press conference at the end of last year and I don’t have an update on his position.
Q Jay, I just want to follow up on remarks that Dan Pfeiffer made last week on the President’s 1996 questionnaire response on marriage. The statement from the President in 1996 reads, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Pfeiffer said someone else filled out this questionnaire for the President. Can you confirm that it’s the White House’s position that someone else filled out this questionnaire and that --
MR. CARNEY: Chris, I think you know, because you’ve read it multiple times since then, that we’ve corrected beginning Friday that that is not the case, that he was mistaking that with another questionnaire. The President’s position on gay marriage has been clear since ’08; is clear again since he’s been President. So I don’t -- I don’t have any update --
Q But, Jay, can you clarify whether or not the ’96 survey was signed by Obama?
MR. CARNEY: It’s my understanding that it was. I think we clarified on Friday that Dan was referring to another questionnaire.
Q But did the President in fact support same-sex marriage in 1996? Why does he --
MR. CARNEY: Again, what I know is what his position was during the campaign and what it is now, that he’s been very clear about. He was very clear in the campaign. He’s very clear about the fact that his position, that he is -- that it’s evolving. And I really don’t have anything to add to it.
Q On Thursday, the President is attending a LGBT fundraiser in New York, and it’s a state that could have same-sex marriage by the end of this week, it’s very possible. Next week, he’s hosting a Pride reception here at the White House. Isn’t the President selling this audience short by saying he supports them and wants their money for his reelection campaign, but also saying at the same time he does not support their right to marry?
MR. CARNEY: Chris, I think you know that this President is very supportive of and strong on LGBT rights and his record is significant with regard to that. He’s been very clear about his position on gay marriage. He has been very clear about how that position is evolving. I don’t have any new announcement to make. But I think you know his record, and he’s proud of it.
Q Just one quick follow-up question.
MR. CARNEY: Let me get -- okay, one more.
Q You said before you don’t have an update right now on the President’s position on same-sex marriage. But is it possible that the President will come to a conclusion on this evolution by Thursday to make an announcement on --
MR. CARNEY: I don’t anticipate that, Chris.