Early November 2011: Then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who is Catholic, arranges a meeting between the president, Vice President Biden, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and himself over the issue. Daley did not talk to female senior staff members before doing so, Politico reports, and Obama was "'mildly uncomfortable' being put on the spot" before he made up his mind about the issue. Obama indicated all sides' concerns would be addressed.
Dolan went public talking like he'd won. He said Obama was "very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community," The New York Times reported at the time. Democrats respond angrily that "This is a pro-choice president. It’s a surprise that we are even having this debate with the administration," The Times reported. Dolan referred to this meeting Thursday, when he said Obama "gave me promises" on the contraception rule, Reuters reports.
Shortly thereafter: Several of Obama's top female advisers, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (pictured above) told Obama they were mad at Daley's "power play."
Fall 2011: Democratic senators, including Jeanne Shaheen, insisted Obama support the contraception coverage requirement in a conference call with Daley, Politico reports.
December 2011: Newt Gingrich makes this an election issue by saying he'd investigate any rule requiring religious groups to cover contraception.
January 20: The Obama administration announces it will require contraception to be covered at Catholic universities and charities. Dolan immediately puts out a press release calling the decision "literally unconscionable" as well as a video of himself talking about it on the Conference of Catholic Bishops' website.
January 20-ish: Obama adviser Pete Rouse tells groups like Planned Parenthood not to make a big deal of the decision, lest they be seen "dancing in the end zone."
January 28: Dioceses are told to talk about the decision during worship services.
January 29: E.J. Dionne spoke from his pulpit, The Washington Post. "Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question," he wrote. "But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here."
February 2: Chris Matthews takes to his pulpit, his MSNBC show, doing a segment on how the issue violated religious liberty. "This is a sad thing," Matthews said. "I'm very proud of the work my wife and I have done... with Catholic charities, but i'm very proud of it and... it's open to everybody. Everybody gets the advantage of these things." One of his guests was liberal Catholic Melinda Henneberger of The Washington Post, who said, "I'm trying to figure out how it could be handled more poorly but I can't... Religious freedom is built into the First Amendment so this is not, to me, a tough call."