back to top

In 2008 Letter, Obama Wrote That States Should Decide Gay Marriage

The President's shift points to a change in personal belief rather than policy.

Posted on

President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage Wednesday in an interview with ABC News. The President said that he supports states deciding the issue on their own, erring on the side of federalism on the issue.

"I had already made a decision that we were going to probably take this position before the election and before the convention," Obama told Robin Roberts with ABC News.

But in his 2008 “Open Letter from Barack Obama to the LGBT community” Obama also favored states deciding the issue — and so his recent shift on the issue looks to be more of change in his personal belief (he previously favored civil unions).

According to the letter:

As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.