For the Record, Obama Opposed Prop 8

I’ve been reading a lot of comments on this blog, and posts on others, that are critical of Senator Obama for not opposing Prop 8. For the record, those criticisms are baseless.

Barack Obama Opposed Proposition 8.

Earlier this year Barack Obama sent a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club on the occasion of their Pride Breakfast. From his letter:

As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

For too long. issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It’s time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans.

I think this makes his position clear. The African-American community was mislead by the Yes on 8 liars. Their message, which included mailers quoting Senator Obama out of context as opposing same-gender marriage, was never countered by the No on 8 campaign. Simply put, the bone-heads running the No on 8 campaign assumed that they had democrats and specifically African-American voters in the bag. Any rational review of existing community profiles and voting trends would have told them that was not the case. They either never looked, or refused to see.

But the failure of the No on 8 campaign to succeed extended further in that they made no credible effort to turn out their identified voters to the polls. The percentage turnout in Alameda, and San Francisco demonstrate that failure all too clearly.

  17 comments for “For the Record, Obama Opposed Prop 8

  1. Adam
    November 8, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Chris: “I think this makes his position clear.”

    Not so fast, Chris. While Obama’s position on Prop 8 may be clear, that’s misleading. He is against gay marriage (otherwise equal civil unions OK by him though).

    Obama: “my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman” –

  2. November 8, 2008 at 1:05 pm


    Obama has a personal belief about same-gender marriage which I dis agree with. But he has made it clear that he does not agree with constitutional amendments that ban marriage equality.

    I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

    Exactly what isn”t clear about the above statement?

  3. November 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    It’s sad, but I guess it was necessary for Barack’s landslide for him to parse words and be all things to all people, but it allowed the Prop 8 LIARS to cherry-pick and make him sound like a backer. So I’m not surprised that new, minority voters who came out mainly to back Barack backed 8 too when they heard he was for it.

    It would have been nice for him to make a clearer, public statement on it; also would have been nice for Governor Arnold, who quietly claimed to oppose 8, to make a commercial like DiFi did.

  4. Jose
    November 8, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    For the record, this is what I found in a 1 second search concerning Obama stance on prop 8, never took a stand.

    Instead, his position was “Obama offers congratulations to newlywed same-sex couples in California and says that they deserve full equality, but he opposes gay marriage. He told a forum on gay rights issues: “I would continue to support a civil union that provides all the benefits to a legally sanctioned marriage.”

    Let’s not create the news.

  5. November 8, 2008 at 4:32 pm


    I am not creating the news. I happened to serve on the Obama LGBT Policy Steering Committee. I am not relying on google searches, I got the info first hand through the campaign. But here is a more public source.

  6. c2
    November 8, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Making a statement to a handful of people at an obscure breakfast, or to a small group in his steering committee is absolutely irrelevant; Obama is meticulous in how he is perceived, and the perception that America, and in particular California, has about his stance on gay marriage is that he is against it. I voted for Obama, but it is no accident that he has taken both sides on this issue, so that no matter where public opinion falls, he will be able to say, “see, I supported it”.

    Vern Nelson, you’re absolutely right.

  7. November 8, 2008 at 9:06 pm


    The No on 8 folks were fully and completely aware of Barack Obama’s position on Proposition 8. They chose to not make the case. Senator Obama was running for President of the United States. His position on ballot initiatives in any state was not the responsibility of is campaign to promote. His position was made clear. In an environment of a presidential campaign, where every comment made to any supporter, reporter, or group has the potential to be broadcast around the country, there is no such thing as an under the radar comment or position.

    Barack Obama personally believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He opposes constitutional amendments at the federal and state level to ban same gender marriages. He supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. His position is that the states should decide the matter in a legislative process.

  8. c2
    November 8, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    No. I’m afraid to say it, but you are way too close to the issue to presume that voters “were fully and completely aware” of Obama’s position. That’s ludicrous. The posters here aren’t even aware, and they are taking the time to weigh in on this issue; you really think that everyone in California took the time to read Obama’s Alice B. Toklas Pride Breakfast letter? Come on. Like 99 percent of America, they just wanted to vote for President of the United States. Period.

    There may be record of his legislative views on this issue, but his public perception is not consistent. He is ambiguous, that is the point.

  9. November 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Um, I never said the voters were aware. That was the job of the No on 8 leadership. They failed to communicate that message effectively and ahead of time. While the No on 8 Campaign did run one of their many ads that highlighted Obama’s opposition, his position was not effectively placed in the ad.

    The Yes on 8 campaign did apply the resources to mislead people into believing that President-Elect Obama supported the initiative.

    On the matter of supporting or not supporting Proposition 8, Barack Obama opposed the initiative. Period.

  10. Jose
    November 9, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I just remember one of the debates, both candidates pretty much had the same response.

    I think I agree with Vern here. These candidates stayed away from those very touching political issues. Immigration and gay rights. Is it right to not make a clear stance? I suppose this is a personal decision that I disagree here with Chris.

    If Chris feels confident that the letter implies Obama oppositions to Prop 8 then that is his right.

    I for one don’t like candidates or public officals that take political stances on issue based on public sentiment. I don’t support elected officals who when in office abstain in voting on controversial issues.

  11. November 9, 2008 at 9:16 am


    Barack Obama was never asked about his position on writing discrimination into state constitutions during the debates. He was not aske about his positon on Prop 8 in any debate. The No on 8 Committee ran the ad (above) pointing out his opposition to prop 8 only in response to the mailers that the Yes people sent out.

    THe No on 8 team could have promoted this earlier, but they made a bad strategic move and chose to not do so.

    More to the real issue here. If the No on 8 team had established a clear and message that focused on convincing voters to not vote for Prop 8, rather than responding to everything the Yes people put out, it is probable that we would not be where we are today.

    Blaming Barack Obama for the failure of the No on 8 campaign is misplaced. Barack Obama was focused on running for President, and he handed his position on 8 to the No campaign on a silver platter. The blame falls in two places; the complacent registered voters who supported marriage equality but decided not to vote, and the No on 8 campaign that failed to communicate their message effectively.

  12. OCGator
    November 9, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    “OBO” if with Gays is for same sex marriage, with straight folks he is against same sex marriage. Chris has trouble with his hearing or just out right tells stories.

  13. November 9, 2008 at 12:29 pm


    Obama and Biden have made their positions clear on Gay marriage. They oppose it. They however also oppose writing discrimination into the US and State Constitutions banning same-gender marriage.

    Do you have trouble hearing or are you just too ignorant to understand the consistency both positions. They are not mutually exclusive.

  14. Jose
    November 9, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    “mutually exclusive”

    Isn’t that like saying you support abortion rights but do not want the the Surpreme court to rule on the constitutionality part in Roe versus Wade.

    There is no way that these two issues can be seriously considered as mutually exclusive to someone not in touch with reality.

    Let’s just say, had another prop 187 came out this election year I would not be inclined to support any candidate that did not take a clear stance on this issue.

    That’s why I just don’t understand the so Prop 8 angry logic in concert with the Pro-idol Obama.

    Talk about something mutually exclusive, Obama was no champion for no on 8.

    Against Gay marriage but “opposed to Prop 8”. Even if I give into the opposed part that’s not much of a champion to your cause.

  15. Jose
    November 9, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Yes, I know sometimes people take what they can get and our content with that part.

    But, why say in the beginning, \”Barack Obama Opposed Proposition 8\”
    when he never said it.

  16. November 10, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I’m behind President Elect Obama 100%. But why can’t we just admit that he’s probably for Gay marriage, he just didn’t want to risk his chance at the presidency on the matter, And his position on this issue has been confusing at best. He doesn’t support gay marriage but he doesn’t support prop 8 either? He thinks prop 8 is writing discrimination into the constitution… so does that mean he admits that he’s discriminating against the gay population? We all know that’s not what going on… that he’s isn’t against gay marriage, he just didn’t want to be seen as supporting the cause. Honestly, it might have cost him the presidency. But it sure would have been a nice way to show that he’s really for change, that he really is tired of the old divides that hold us back as a country… perhaps he’ll make amends later…

  17. November 10, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Prop 8’s fate did not rest on Obama’s shoulders, no matter what he said, no matter what he thought, and no matter what people’s perception or awareness of his thoughts or pronouncements.

    Prop 8 passed because of the abject failure of Equality California (EQCA) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to wage an effective campaign. It was flawed from the beginning – before there was a Democratic nominee for president. This disaster is theirs, not Obama’s.

    The board of directors at EQCA should resign immediately. HRC should stop bragging about how wonderful they are and instead do what they do best: raise money. They should not be entrusted with the future of the LGBT Community or the fate of gay marriage. A new, ad hoc group of intelligent, experienced people who know about building coalitions and running campaigns should form and continue the fight.

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