Kerry Eleveld—who's leaving The Advocate—finally landed an exclusive with President Obama on the occasion of his signing of the DADT repeal. The main takeaway? Obama says he is "wrestling" with the marriage-equality issue:
"Like a lot of people, I'm wrestling with this. I've wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples...What I know is that at minimum, a baseline, is that there has to be a strong, robust civil union available to all gay and lesbian couples."
Prodded further, he laughs and says, "I'm going to stick with my answer."
When it comes to defending DOMA in court, Obama also sends some positive, if vague, signals:
"I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options. My preference wherever possible is to get things done legislatively. That may not be possible in DOMA's case. That's something that I think we have to strategize on over the next several months."
Acknowledging that a legislative fix is not likely but saying he prefers it "wherever possible" is key—it opens the door to later saying, 'Well, we tried to do it legislatively but the Republicans wouldn't budge, so now we're just going to the courts.'
Also, on the implementation of the DADT repeal, Obama says it is his "strong sense" it will be months and "absolutely not years" to take effect.
All in all, a very substantive chat with Eleveld.