President Barack Obama stopped by The View Monday during his trip to New York for a pre-recorded segment that aired Tuesday. During the interview before a$35,800-per-plate fund-raising dinner later that night at the apartment of Blackstone Group President Tony James, the president chatted with the ladies on his parenting techniques, favorite T.V. shows and took the majority of the segment’s focus on policy discussing his decision to endorse same-sex marriage. In addition to rehashing his opinion that the issue should remain decided on the state level, President Obama may have surprised some when he stated support of the religious liberty of churches regarding same-sex marriage:
“I’m very respectful of peoples differences on this issue” President Obama said, going on to add; “I think it’s very important for us to make sure that churches and other religious institutions have the freedom to make their own determinations about what their religious sacrements are.
“But when it comes to civil law, when it comes to the rights that are recognized by the state, then I think it’s very important to make sure that everybody’s treated fairly, everybody’s treated equally.”
Following his announcement declaring support for same-sex marriage last week, The New York Times reports that President Obama was on the phone with religious leaders explaining his new position:
In the hours following Mr. Obama’s politically charged announcement on Wednesday, the president and his team embarked on a quiet campaign to contain the possible damage among religious leaders and voters. He also reached out to one or more of the five spiritual leaders he calls regularly for religious guidance, and his aides contacted other religious figures who have been supportive in the past.
The issue of religious freedom has become a delicate one for Mr. Obama, especially after the recent furor over an administration mandate that religiously affiliated organizations offer health insurance covering contraceptives. After complaints from Catholic leaders that the mandate undercut their faith, Mr. Obama offered a compromise that would maintain coverage for contraception while not requiring religious organizations to pay for it, but critics remained dissatisfied.
In taking on same-sex marriage, Mr. Obama made a point of couching his views in religious terms. “We’re both practicing Christians,” the president said of his wife and himself in the ABC News interview in which he discussed his new views. “And obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others.”
He added that what he thought about was “not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf but it’s also the golden rule, you know? Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
After the interview, Mr. Obama hit the phones. Among those he called was one of the religious leaders he considers a touchstone, the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, the pastor of a conservative megachurch in Florida.
“Some of the faith communities are going to be afraid that this is an attack against religious liberty,” Mr. Hunter remembered telling the president.
“Absolutely not,” Mr. Obama insisted. “That’s not where we’re going, and that’s not what I want.”
Although the president criticized the Defense of Marriage Act on The View Tuesday, he would not directly answer whether or not he would fight to repeal the act, instead saying that “Congress is clearly on notice” that he thinks the act is “a bad idea.”
While the president says now that he believes religious institutions should not be infringed upon for their position on same-sex marriage, he also once stated his support of traditional marriage and a preference for civil unions over same-sex marriage.
Do you see the stance of religious institutions on same-sex marriage as a threat down the road for their religious freedom? Will those as adamantly supporting same-sex marriage now in civil law, ever respect or accept the rights of religious institutions to exclude same-sex marriage form their sacrements?