Obama in State of Union: Same-Sex Marriage is ‘America at Its Best’

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 21, 2015 | 9:07 AM EST

President Barack Obama delivering his State of the Union Address on Jan. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan)" link="/image/president-barack-obama-2015-state-union" nid="878253" preset="medium" teaser="0

(CNSNews.com) - When he was running for president seven years ago, and appearing in a nationally televised forum held by a Christian pastor at a Christian church, Barack Obama said he believed that marriage was a “sacred union” that was “between a man and a woman.”

On Tuesday night, in his State of the Union Address, Obama said that legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States is one of the things he has seen that represents “America at its best.”

“I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long,” Obama said. “I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best.

“I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California, and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, New London,” he said. “I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown, in Boston, in West Texas, and West Virginia.  I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.  I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.

“So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who every day live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper,” he said. “And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.”

On Aug. 17, 2008, two and a half months before the 2008 presidential election, Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, were interviewed back-to-back by Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in Southern California.

Warren asked Obama: “Define marriage.”

I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama said. “Now, for me as a Christian--for me--for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix.”

“Would you support a Constitutional Amendment with that definition?” Warren asked.

No, I would not,” said Obama.

“Why not?” asked Warren.

Because historically, we have not defined marriage in our Constitution,” said Obama. “It's been a matter of state law. That has been our tradition. I mean, let's break it down. The reason that people think there needs to be a constitutional amendment, some people believe, is because of the concern that--about same-sex marriage. I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not--that for gay partners to want to visit each other in the hospital for the state to say, you know what, that's all right, I don't think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are. I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or different view.”

On Nov. 1, 2008, just three days before the 2008 election, Obama again stated that he did not believe in same-sex marriage.

MTV asked him his view on Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

“I think it’s unnecessary,” Obama said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don’t contract them."