Napolitano Evolves on Gay Marriage: ‘The Arc of History Has Clearly Arrived’

by Eliana Johnson

As governor of Arizona between 2003 and 2009, Janet Napolitano opposed gay marriage, but, like many prominent Democratic political figures, the University of California president says she has evolved on the issue.

During her time as governor, she told NBC’s David Gregory, “the evolution hadn’t occurred, and my statements were very much in that way.” She added, “This was something that society in a way, the arc of history, as it were, needed to get there, and the arc of history has clearly arrived.”

Napolitano next month will lead the American delegation to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a group that will include several prominent gay and lesbian athletes. Napolitano has denied that she is gay. The White House’s announcement of the delegation, which came in late December, was considered a tacit reproach to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has passed draconian laws barring “propaganda” about homosexual relationships in the name of protecting children.

In the U.S., the growing support for gay marriage over last ten years, according to the Pew Research Center, constitutes one of the largest shifts in American opinion during that time. In a March 2013 Pew poll, 14 percent of Americans said they had changed their views on the issue and 49 percent said they supported gay marriage, up 16 points from a decade ago.