The fundies are going wild over this one. Apparently the archives of Outlines, a Chicago-based gay paper that merged with the Windy City Times in 2000, show that Obama supported same-sex marriage back in 1996. This is from their election guide:
Democrat: Barack Obama. Supports gay rights, same-sex marriage; increased AIDS funding, abortion rights, affirmative action. Endorsed by IFHR, IMPACT, IVI-IPO, Illinois and Chicago NOW, Personal PAC.
Republican: Rosette Caldwell Peyton
Harold Washington Party: David Whitehead
"IFHR" is the Illinois Federation for Human Right PAC, an old Illinois gay rights PAC that's now Equality Illinois.
Updated after the jump.
This isn't going to be a game-changer, since people (at least the people who haven't decided yet), aren't going to vote just on same-sex marriage this year, especially since the president doesn't do all that much when it comes to same-sex marriage.
It's more indicative of the position Democratic candidates have taken regarding marriage, deciding that no matter their personal views on it, it's not a winning issue for them. So now he supports all the rights of marriage, but not the name, being open to same-sex couples.
That said, I am a bit surprised that this is coming out right now, so late in the campaign season.
Here's Outlines' methodology:
OUTLINES here provides information on all Chicago-area state candidates, drawn from OUTLINES and/or IMPACT questionnaires, information from other endorsing organizations, and the candidates' voting records, particularly on state lesbigay-rights legislation and the state ban on same-sex marriage. If no information is given for a particular candidate, that means none was available.
Candidates endorsed by the Illinois Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) Political Action Committee all have either supported the state gay-rights bill or supported gay rights in another jurisdiction. Additionally, the IFHR PAC gave campaign contributions to all those who voted against the marriage ban. Those endorsed by Personal PAC have 100 percent pro-choice records or questionnaire responses; those rated "preferred" by Personal PAC have taken mostly pro-choice stances.
Update: I contacted Tracy Baim, the current publisher of the Windy City Times, who was the publisher of Outlines in 1996. She thinks the response came from an IMPACT questionnaire (IMPACT is now defunct). Here's what Trudy Ring, the author of the voting guide, remembered:
I did not interview Obama--sad to say, I've never met him--and all I remember about the story was that it was a lot of work and I went off of groups' endorsements and their questionnaire responses. Like Tracy said, IMPACT is defunct, and the answer may well have been from its questionnaire. I'm thinking, however, that Obama may have just said did not favor the same-sex marriage ban that had been passed earlier that year by the Illinois legislature, before he was a member. Of course, Illinois did not then and does not now marry same-sex couples, but in 1996 many states (and the federal government!) were enacting specific bans because of the case going through the Hawaii courts that was expected to legalize same-sex marriage there.
Since we don't have the original questionnaire results, this might have been a response taken out of context that the right is using to fear monger and pick up votes. Obama's been consistent in his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Not that there's any proof that he didn't support same-sex marriage back in the 90's and then change his position for the national election....
The fear mongering won't work anyway - McCain's not going to win on homophobia at this point. The problems people are voting on are too material to worry about something like that.