By Devin Dwyer
President Obama, who has opposed same-sex marriage but is said to be “evolving” on the issue, this evening is attending a fundraiser at the home of a lesbian couple whose 2008 Chicago nuptials were described in a local paper as the “wedding of the season.”
Obama will collect an estimated $1.4 million for his re-election campaign from an intimate group of around 40 gay and lesbian supporters at the home of Karen Dixon and Dr. Nan Schaffer in Washington, D.C., according to a campaign official.
Dixon and Schaffer, transplants from Chicago, held a wedding ceremony in July 2008 with hundreds of guests attending from all across the country, according to an account in the Windy City Times. Photos of the ceremony are available HERE.
But their marriage was not afforded the same legal recognition and benefits as heterosexual couples because same-sex marriage is not legal in Illinois. (It’s unclear whether the couple has filed for a legal marriage certificate in D.C., where gay marriage is now performed. The couple could not be reached for comment.)
Obama has remained mum on his view on whether couples such as Dixon and Schaffer should be able to legally wed in states across the country, preferring instead to let each state decide for itself.
“I think it’s important for us to work through these issues because each community is going to be different, each state is going to be different,” he said in June after New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage. Washington state this week became the seventh.
The position — a new twist for Obama, who appeared to support legalizing the unions in 1996, later opposed them and most recently said his views are “evolving” — has rankled advocates who say the president is making a calculated political decision with an eye toward 2012.
He has, however, opposed the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opposes a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution.
“The president’s position on these issues writ large are well known,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week. “You know his position, where it stands now, on the position of same-sex marriage. I don’t have much to add on that.”
Asked whether Obama supports marriages like that between Dixon and Schaffer and whether their marriage in Chicago should have been afforded the same rights and privileges as those given to heterosexual couples, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt offered the following comment:
“The President has long opposed a Federal Marriage Amendment, supported the repeal of DOMA, and been clear that this was a matter than states should decide.”
Schaffer is a veterinary doctor who specializes in rhinoceros reproduction, according to her biography in the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. She is also a philanthropist, political activist and co-founder of the Windy City Media Group.
Dixon is an attorney and GLBT community advocate.