Obama concealed support for gay marriage in 2008, former senior adviser claims in new book

Dylan Stableford
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Axelrod and Obama

Axelrod and Obama (Kikapress/File)

As Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008, the then-U.S. senator hid from Americans his support for same-sex marriage, but he did so at the guidance of his former political adviser, David Axelrod. 

And, it is Axelrod who is exposing Obama’s flip-flop on the very politicized issue in a new book, “Believer: My Forty Years In Politics.”

“I’m just not very good at bulls----ing,” Obama told Axelrod after a campaign event where he stated his opposition to gay marriage, according to an excerpt from the Axelrod's book published by Time magazine.

“I just don’t feel my marriage is somehow threatened by the gay couple next door,” Obama told Axelrod, according to the excerpt.

As a state senate candidate in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire stating he was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages, and “would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

But Axelrod, who was Obama’s chief campaign adviser in 2008, says he advised the then-Illinois senator to conceal his support for gay marriage in an effort to help him win the White House.

“Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church,” Axelrod writes, “and as [Obama] 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.”

But “having prided himself on forthrightness,” Axelrod continues, “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.”

In 2010, Obama told reporters his position on same-sex marriage was “evolving” — an assertion Axelrod, who was then a senior White House advisor, says was also not true.

If “Obama’s views were ‘evolving’ publicly,” he writes, “they were fully evolved behind closed doors. The president was champing at the bit to announce his support for the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed — and having watched him struggle with this issue for years, I was ready, too.”

But it wasn’t until 2012, after Vice President Joe Biden said on “Meet the Press” that he was “absolutely comfortable” with marriage equality, that the president publicly revealed his support for gay marriage.

“I would have preferred doing this on my own terms, but it is what it is,” Obama told Axelrod, according to the book. “I know Joe screwed up, and when I have lunch with him tomorrow, I’m going to talk to him about it. It was sloppy. But you know, I can’t be too hard on him. He was speaking from a bigheartedness.”