NPR.org, June 29, 2009 · In 1996, when Barack Obama was running for the Illinois Senate, he was asked in a survey by Outlines, a gay community newspaper in Chicago, if he supported same-sex marriage. Unlike most candidates, who merely indicated yes or no, Obama took the unusual step of typing in his response, to which he affixed his signature. Back then not a single state permitted same-sex marriage, and sodomy was a crime. Nonetheless, Obama took a position on the progressive edge of the Democratic Party, and he did so with unmistakable clarity: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
Marchers carrying a mile-long rainbow banner lead hundreds of thousands of gay rights activists up First Avenue in New York City. The marchers are commemorating riots at the Stonewall Inn. Sunday, June 26, 1994. 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, considered the birth of the gay rights movement. AP