October 25, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Obama endorses ballot measures for marriage equality
Barack Obama, Election 2012, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama on Thursday endorsed marriage measures in Washington and Maine (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Newspapers in three states where voters will decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot published statements on Thursday from the Obama campaign saying President Obama backs the marriage equality side.

The states are Maine, Maryland and Washington State — three of the four states that will decide the issue of marriage equality on Nov. 6.

The Obama campaign issued these statements even though these states are solidly Democratic and not considered in play as part of the presidential election. The statements have similar language and aren’t attributed to Obama, but to campaign spokespersons.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Washington State:

The President endorsed Referendum 74 in a statement by Press Secretary Paul Bell, “While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.”

From the Portland Press Herald in Maine:

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” said Michael Czin, Northeast regional press secretary. “The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1.”

From the Baltimore Sun in Maryland:

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” said Obama for America spokesman Frank Benenati. ”Maryland’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Maryland couples equally, and that is why the president supports Question 6.”

Obama’s support for these initiatives would be in line with his personal support for marriage equality, which he announced after more than a year of “evolution” in May.

In Minnesota, the Obama campaign explicitly came out against the ballot measure in April. It’s the only state among the four that will decide on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as opposed to the legalization of it.

The Washington Blade at that time published a statement from Minnesota Obama campaign Communications Director Kristin Sosanie:

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” Sosanie said. “That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the president does not support it.”

In Maryland, President Obama’s support for the marriage equality measure isn’t new. He previously called on his supporters to vote in favor of same-sex marriage during a June fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore.

From the Washington Blade at that time:

“We’re moving forward to a country where we treat everybody fairly and everybody equally, with dignity and respect,” he said during a campaign fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore. “And here in Maryland, thanks to the leadership of committed citizens and Gov. O’Malley, you have a chance to reaffirm that principle in the voting booth in November. It’s the right thing to do.”

Obama’s positions on these initiatives contrast with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who’s spoken out against the legalization of same-sex marriage and backs a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban it throughout the country. The Romney campaign didn’t immediately respond to the new statements from the Obama campaign in Maine and Washington State.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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