Jeanne Shaheen, Obama Campaign Co-Chair: My Support For Same-Sex Marriage Isn't Awkward For Obama
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said Wednesday that she doesn't think it's awkward for President Barack Obama that his campaign co-chairs, like her, are publicly endorsing gay marriage when he is still "evolving" on the issue.
Shaheen made news on Tuesday by announcing her support for including marriage equality in the 2012 Democratic Party platform, which will be rolled out at the Democratic National Convention in September. She reached out to Obama's campaign headquarters in advance to let them know of her decision, she said.
"We called over and let them know this was my position and I said I would invite the opportunity to talk to the president at some point, but I haven't been able to talk to him yet," Shaheen told The Huffington Post. An Obama campaign spokesman didn't return a request for comment on Tuesday.
Shaheen, one of Obama's 35 national campaign co-chairs, tamped down on the idea that her move created an uncomfortable dynamic for the president, whose position has been "evolving" on the issue since he came into the White House. Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), another Obama campaign chair, also endorsed the issue on Tuesday.
"I don't think so," Shaheen said when asked if her position created awkwardness for Obama. "If we look historically at the Democratic platform, it has really been a vision document for where we'd like to go in the Democratic Party. Certainly I think this is a place where most of us believe we need to encourage the Democratic Party to go."
While Obama has supported measures to dismantle the Defense of Marriage Act, he has not endorsed a federal extension of marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. Instead, he maintains the issue should be decided by states. Shaheen wouldn't weigh in on the president's stance, nor would she say if she expected him to evolve in support of gay marriage after the November elections. But she predicted that "the openness of the issue" is swaying people in her and Obama's generation to support marriage quality.
"Shedding light on the issue and how people have been treated has gone a long way to changing minds," Shaheen said. "If we can get this into the Democratic platform, it's good for us."