During his run for Illinois state Senate in 1996, Barack Obama stated his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage, according to an exclusive story in the Jan. 14 Windy City Times newspaper.
President-elect Obama's answer to a 1996 Outlines newspaper question on marriage was: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." There was no use of the phrase "civil unions". (Outlines purchased Windy City Times in 2000 and merged companies.)
This answer is among those included in this week's Windy City Times feature on Obama's evolving position on gay marriage. Windy City Times also includes his answers to the candidate questionnaire of IMPACT, at one time a gay political action committee in Illinois. In that survey he also stated his support of same-sex marriage.
During the final weeks of the presidential campaign last fall, several media outlets contacted Windy City Times because of an old internet story from the 1996 Illinois state Senate race. In that campaign, Outlines newspaper reported that 13th District candidate Barack Obama supported gay marriage. Reporters wanted to know what exactly Obama had said.
Outlines summarized the results in that 1996 article by Trudy Ring, but did not list exact answers to questions. In that article Outlines did note that Obama was a supporter of same-sex marriage and that article was never challenged or corrected by Obama. Just recently, the original Outlines and IMPACT surveys were found in the newspaper's archives.
More recently, as Obama has run for higher office, from the U.S. Senate to president, he has further shaped his views on marriage, and now he does not back same-sex marriage, but favors civil unions.
The Jan. 14 Windy City Times has articles by Publisher and Executive Editor Tracy Baim looking at Obama's marriage record, including from a 2004 interview she conducted with the U.S. senate hopeful, and also an article by Timothy Stewart-Winter, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, who is writing his dissertation on lesbian and gay politics in Chicago. Stewart-Winter provides a look at the context of Obama's race in 1996 against incumbent Alice Palmer.