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TPM:

Barack Obama was "bullshitting" his opposition to gay marriage and support for civil unions during his 2008 presidential campaign, according to a new book authored by former senior White House adviser David Axelrod. Time magazine reported Tuesday that the longtime Obama confidant said in his new book, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics," that he counseled then-senator Obama to soften his position on gay marriage for political reasons. "Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he 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, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’” Axelrod wrote.

Obama came out in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples way, way back in 1996. People typically evolve in one direction on this issue: from opposition to marriage equality to support for it. I never heard of a case where someone (a parent, a preacher, a politician) evolved to support marriage equality, devolved and came out against it, then revolved and came out for marriage equality again—except for the case of Barack Obama. Like I said throughout his first term...

The president pretends he's opposed to gay marriage, the gays pretend to believe him.

And I recognize now—as my legally wed husband snores legally away in our totally legal marital bed—that this was smart-if-sometimes-maddening politics:

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[No] one believes, of course, that Barack Obama actually opposed marriage equality in 2008 when he was running for president. Obama had endorsed same-sex marriage earlier in his political career and marriage equality isn't an issue that people "evolve" back and forth on. But Obama made a political calculation—and it was one that gays and lesbians ultimately benefited from. As I said repeatedly back when gay bloggers, activists, and writers (myself included!) were pressing the president to "evolve already," the president pretended to oppose marriage equality and we pretended to believe him. Hence the pressure. The president's evolution on marriage equality was a lovely piece of political performance art. And by the time Obama was ready to publicly endorse marriage equality—another calculated decision on his part—Obama had managed to bring a lot of the country along with him. So, as it turned out, the president's political calculations were pretty fucking sound.