White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was cautious on Thursday when asked about President Obama’s position on legislative repeal of the same-sex marriage law in New Hampshire.
Under questioning from the Washington Blade on the expected vote to repeal the law, Carney said he hasn’t spoken with Obama on the issue.
“I honestly haven’t spoken to him about that state issue, so I would have to take the question and see if there’s anything I can get back to you,” Carney said.
Pressed further on whether Obama’s position that states should decide the marriage issue themselves means that he would support the legislature’s decision to undo the law, Carney declined to elaborate.
“Again, that’s an ‘if-if’ question and I haven’t had the conversation with him or with any of the senior staff about it,” Carney said. “So let me take that and see if we can get a response to you.”
The White House didn’t immediately response to a follow-up e-mail request from the Blade to provide an answer.
President Obama has yet to endorse same-sex marriage, but has for more than a year suggested he could evolve to support marriage rights for gay couples. At the time that the New York Legislature was debating same-sex marriage legislation, Obama said during an LGBT fundraiser in New York City that states should decide for themselves the best way to handle the marriage issue.
But in 1996, Obama expressed support for same-sex marriage. In a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times, Obama wrote, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibits such marriages.”
The New Hampshire Legislature is likely to vote sometime this month on repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law, which Gov. John Lynch (D) signed in 2009. Lynch has said he’d veto repeal legislation should it come to his desk, but the Republican supermajority in the legislature may have enough to override his veto.
Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has become an issue for Republican presidential candidates seeking their party’s nomination. Texas Gov. Rick Perry praised efforts to repeal the marriage law during a banquet appearance in October for the conservative advocacy group known as Cornerstone Action. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he favors repeal of New Hampshire’s law when Bob Garon, a gay Vietnam veteran, confronted the candidate on his views.
“I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law,” Romney said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s my view.”
But each of the candidates who’ve expressed support for a Federal Marriage Amendment — Perry, Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum — have implicitly backed the repeal of the New Hampshire law because such a measure would prohibit same-sex marriage throughout the country.
A transcript of the exchange between the Blade and Carney follows:
Washington Blade: Thanks, Jay. The New Hampshire Legislature this month is expected to vote on a bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage law there. The Democratic governor has said he’d veto any such measure that came to his desk, but the Republicans have a super majority in the legislature and they could have the votes to override this veto. Both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have said they support the repeal of the marriage law there, but what does the president hope is the outcome of this vote?
Carney: Chris, I honestly haven’t spoken to him about that state issue, so I would have to take the question and see if there’s anything I can get back to you.
Blade: The president has said that he — states should decide how to best address the marriage issue themselves. If the legislature decides to repeal that marriage law will he support that decision?
Carney: Again, that’s an “if-if” question and I haven’t had the conversation with him or with any of the senior staff about it. So let me take that and see if we can get a response to you.
Watch the video here (via Think Progress)