WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated Tuesday that while President Barack Obama is personally supportive of civil gay marriages, he doesn't believe it should be a federal issue.
A day after the president uttered his strongest words yet on the rights of gay Americans to marry, the White House is trying to tamp down any expectations that he will push for more action to make his vision a reality.
"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said in his second inaugural address from the West Front of the Capitol building.
But Carney referred back to Obama's comments on gay marriage from May 2012 when he "evolved" on the issue and expressed his personal support for gay marriages after opposing them for years in public life.
"The president's position on this has been clear in terms of his personal views," Carney said. "He believes that individuals who love each other should not be barred from marriage. And he talked about this not in a religious sense, but civil marriage. And that continues to inform his beliefs. We have taken positions on various efforts to restrict the rights of Americans, which he generally thinks is a bad idea. And you know his position on section 3 of DOMA."
Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for the purposes of insurance benefits, Social Security payments, and immigration — major issues in the lives of some couples.
"But on the overall principle that we should not discriminate or treat differently gay or LGBT Americans is one he believes in deeply," Carney added.
Carney refused to take a position on the California gay marriage ban (Proposition 8) currently being challenged at the Supreme Court.
Carney rejected analysis of Obama's speech as particularly liberal, saying, "It was forceful and it was confident…I would reject that idea that this was an –ism speech, it was the opposite of that."
And Carney tried to pour cold water on any grand moves to attack climate change, even though it was a substantial portion of the president's address.