In an interview conducted in front of an audience at the Netroots Nation blogger conference early Friday in Minneapolis, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer claimed a 1996 questionnaire favoring gay marriage, which bears Barack Obama's signature, was "actually filled out by someone else."
"If you actually go back and look, that questionnaire was actually filled out by someone else, not the President. There was a long debate about this in the campaign. ... This was litigated in the campaign," Pfeiffer said in an exchange with the Daily Kos' Kaili Joy Gray caught on video.
The questionnaire (click here to view), originally published in the gay periodical Outlines, is marked by Obama's now-famous signature, and the handwriting appears strikingly similar to other, more recent examples.
In it, he claims that he "favor[s] legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages," a position that he has pointedly avoided in recent years.
Tracy Baim, who founded Outlines and now publishes the Windy City Times, stands by then-state senate candidate Obama's response and notes that this is the first time in the 15 years since its publication that the questionnaire's authenticity has been doubted:
It was faxed from the law firm Obama worked for at the time. And it was reported in Outlines newspaper that he backed gay marriage, something his campaign never denied in 1996. He would have had a very small campaign staff, so it was unlikely he had someone else complete the form. In fact he went to the trouble of typing full answers when the form was actually able to be completed as a Q&A. Even if someone else completed the form, Obama signed it, and never denied subsequent reports of its content.
Obama also, Baim noted, wrote in the same year in a separate questionnaire issued by the new-defunct gay advocacy group IMPACT that he would not oppose any attempts to outlaw same-gender marriage. He added "the state should not interfere with same-gender couples who chose [sic] to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of civil marriage."
The Wall Street Journal reports Pfeiffer was booed while he continued to answer Gray's question, stating, "The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it. The country is evolving on this, and he is evolving on it."
In February, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder moved to suspend the Department of Justice's defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in an ongoing lawsuit as they consider the provision is "unnecessary and unfair" as well as unconstitutional. Still, the president has yet to come out in support of gay marriage.