Hillary Clinton didn't refrain from supporting same-sex marriage for political reasons—before last year, she earnestly believed that marriage equality should be denied to gays and lesbians. That's the story the 66-year-old Democrat settled on when NPR host Terry Gross pressed her on her views. The admission is easily the most significant in the interview with the former senator, secretary of State, and presidential candidate, though much of the subsequent media attention has focused on the perception that there was a "heated exchange" where Clinton "lashed out" at her interviewer.* The mild tension stemmed from persistent questioning as Clinton obfuscated on an issue that could damage her chances in a 2016 primary but is relatively unlikely to hurt her in a contest against a Republican, given that her coalition is so much stronger on gay rights than the opposition.
In a primary, Clinton could be forced to explain a longtime position that a significant part of that Democratic political coalition now views as suspect or even bigoted. Most famously, the Silicon Valley left forced the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for a 2008 donation he made to an anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative. That same year, Clinton ran for president while openly opposing gay marriage. If she is to be believed, she also opposed gay marriage as recently as 2013, long after a majority of Americans already held a more gay-friendly position. Would the subset of Democrats who thought 2008 opposition to gay marriage should prevent a man from becoming CEO in 2013 really support the 2015 presidential campaign of a woman who openly opposed gay marriage until last year?