Just hours after he repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military, President Obama acknowledged the discrepancy in his position on supporting gays in the military, while opposing same-sex marriages, and conceded his "feelings are constantly evolving."
Taking a victory lap at the end of what he called the most "productive post-election period" in decades, the president celebrated the raft of new laws passed in the final weeks of the year, including the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which today he signed into law.
Asked by ABC News' Jake Tapper why he believed gay Americans should now be allowed to fight and die for their country but not enter into legally sanctioned marriages, the president admitted that he struggled with the duality in those positions.
"My feelings are constantly evolving," Obama told reporters about his position on gay marriage.
"I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful long-lasting gay or lesbians unions," he said, acknowledging that same-sex marriage is "something that means a lot to them."
"My baseline is a strong civil union that affords them legal protections," the president said Wednesday, just before leaving for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. "I recognize from their perspective, it's not enough."
The president hailed the bipartisan effort put forth by lawmakers in recent weeks, passing bills on cutting taxes, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," food safety, providing health care to rescue workers sickened on 9/11, and the START treaty on nuclear weapons with Russia.
"If there is any lesson to draw from the past few weeks it's that we are not doomed to endless gridlock," the president said.
"If Americans knew any of these kids," the president said, "they'd say, 'Of course we want you. That's who we are, that's the better angels of our nature.'"
"I have persisted," the president said about making immigration reform a priority. "I believe strongly in this."
Not everyone has lauded the work on the lame-duck Congress.
"I am not proud of this process. I'm not proud of this lame duck. I am not proud of what we've been ... doing as a party, quite frankly, because we've jeopardized the minority standing in future congresses," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., known to reach across the aisle on many an issue, said on Fox News Radio. "We're setting precedent in a lame duck that I think is unhealthy for the future of this country."
When he returns from Hawaii, the president intends to hold a bipartisan retreat at Camp David, White House sources said.
ABC News' Jake Tapper contributed to this report.