President Obama remains opposed to same-sex marriage despite a federal judge's decision to strike down a ban on such marriages, a top White House adviser said Thursday.

Senior adviser David Axelrod said the president supports "equality" for gay and lesbian couples, but did not address directly Obama's position on Wednesday's court ruling, which struck down as unconstitutional California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.


"The president does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control," Axelrod said on MSNBC.

The Obama administration has found itself in a difficult position at times on the issue of gay rights. The president has endorsed civil unions and repealing the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. He's also expanded benefits to federal employees in same-sex relationships.

But Obama has also come under fire for not moving quickly or aggressively enough on issues important to the LGBT community, which welcomed the Wednesday ruling. The decision argued that gay and lesbian couples were protected against discrimination by the Constitution, and the ban violated constitutional due process and equal protection. The decision is expected to face appeal, perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court.

Axelrod noted that Obama had opposed Prop 8 all along.

"The president opposed Proposition 8 at the time — he felt it was divisive and mean spirited," he said, adding that Obama believes that governing marriage is "an issue for the states."

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—Updated 10:20 a.m.