President Obama had privately supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry at least months before his public comments on the issue this May, according to comments made by Washington state’s governor that were posted online on Monday.
Obama told Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, a fellow Democrat, that “[h]istory will be on our side” regarding marriage equality just days after she signed her state’s marriage equality bill — but months before the president would announce publicly on May 9 that he held that view — according to comments Gregoire made in a video posted online on Monday.
Although it is not clear when Gregoire recounted the story, she said in the video posted on Monday by the National Organization for Marriage that Obama made the comments when he visited Washington in February.
“You have no idea how proud I am of you,” Gregoire said the president told her on the tarmac when he landed in Washington state on Feb. 17. She said he continued, saying, “Thank you for what you have done. History will be on our side. We will ensure equality in the United States. Congratulations, and thank you.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the president’s views on marriage on the way to the visit to Washington state. At the time, Carney said he had “no update” regarding the president’s views on same-sex couples’ marriage rights.
NOM, a leading opponent of the Washington bill and other similar efforts, characterized the video as proof that Obama “Hid His True Position on Marriage for Months.”
The timing of the comments is interesting in light of the timing of other marriage-related issues from the first half of this year. In addition to the Washington state passage, the veto by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of his state’s marriage equality bill was front and center in the news. In the months that followed, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed his state’s marriage equality bill in March and North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment in May banning same-sex couples from marrying.
A White House spokesman did not immediately comment on whether Gregoire’s comments as shown in the video accurately portrayed their conversation.