By Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) - He has been declared America's "first gay president."
But President Barack Obama's evolution to that title hasn't been easy. His positions zig-zagged over almost two decades.
The president and the nation have evolved on same-sex marriage
His advocacy of same-sex marriage began well before his White House years, tracing back to his early political service in Illinois. The effectiveness of his leadership, however, will be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers a California ban on same-sex marriage.
1996: While running for the Illinois Senate, Obama signs a questionnaire for a gay Chicago publication saying he favors legalizing same-sex marriages. He later wins the race.
1998: He alters course and answers "undecided" on same-sex marriage when questioned in another survey.
2003: In his campaign for the Illinois Senate, Obama says in a questionnaire that he is against repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that states for federal purposes, marriage is defined as only between one man and one woman.
2004: When running for the U.S. Senate, he notes he is "a Christian" and that "marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman." He wins the race.
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