Obama supports gay marriagePresident Barack Obama
Thu, May 10, 2012 - 12:01 AM
President Barack Obama endorsed the right of same-sex couples to marry on Wednesday, a landmark pronouncement made in light of mounting pressure from gay rights advocates.
Obama became the first U.S. president to back the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, a reversal from views expressed during the 2008 campaign, when he said he opposed same-sex marriage but favored civil unions as an alternative.
Obama told ABC News that, after reflection, he had "concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
President Barack Obama, who said in the past that his views on gay marriage were 'evolving,' said today he thinks same-sex couples should be able to get married. But he also said that gay marriage is an issue for states to decide. Currently, there isn't any federal action in the works to make gay marriage legal. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.
In making his announcement, Obama completes what he had described as an “evolution” in his views on this issue, hastened by growing fervor this week involving gay rights. The growing pressure was capped Tuesday by North Carolina voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment banning not only same-sex marriages, but civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, as well.
Obama’s shift not only speaks to a broad swath of the electorate, which has exhibited increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage in opinion polls, but also gay and lesbian voters who compose a core part of Obama’s base, and have been major fundraisers for his re-election.
President Barack Obama appears in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, speaking in support of gay marriage. "It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," the president said.
Obama explained that he had hesitated in fully supporting same-sex marriage because he thought civil unions would be sufficient.
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," he told ABC.
Will Obama's support of gay marriage help or hurt his re-election bid? (See bottom of story for poll results)
The president had found himself under increasing pressure this week to state his position unequivocally after Vice President Joe Biden voiced support for same-sex marriage.
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties," Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
"And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."
While the White House emphasized that Biden’s position wasn’t representative of the entire administration, Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s pronouncement Monday on MSNBC Morning Joe in support of same-sex marriage added to pressure on the president.
“I have no update on the president's personal views,” press secretary Jay Carney said repeatedly at Monday’s White House press briefing in reference to the president’s self-styled “evolution” on gay marriage.
As a result, Obama has risked fallout among his political base. The Washington post reported this week that gay and liberal donors had threatened to withhold financial support for the president or a super PAC due to his refusal to sign an executive order barring discrimination of gays and lesbians in federal contracting.
Comments from Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan brought Obama's views about gay marriage back into national spotlight.NBC's Chuck Todd reports.
And Obama was expected, too, to encounter frustration at a major Hollywood fundraiser this week at the home of actor George Clooney.
The overwhelming approval, too, of the measure, which Obama had opposed, in North Carolina -- a key swing state -- heightened speculation that the president might address the issue.
- Editor's Choice