It seems President Obama backed gay marriage long before he told us he was "evolving". In fact, during the 2008 campaign—while he asserted that marriage was between "a man and a woman"—his private views were quite different, writes former top aide David Axelrod in his book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics. At the time, Obama said he supported only civil unions for same-sex couples. That was on the advice of advisers like Axelrod, the aide writes, as Time reports: "Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me."
Obama wasn't thrilled with his adopted position. "Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise,” Axelrod notes. "He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up." That may be because, in Obama's words as quoted by Axelrod: "I’m just not very good at bullshitting." The comment followed an event at which he asserted his views against same-sex marriage. Once in office, he said his views were "evolving"; before he took a stand, he "was champing at the bit" to do so, Axelrod writes. It wasn't until 2012 that he acknowledged his support, Talking Points Memo notes. (Meanwhile, former aide Reggie Love also has a new book out.)