Obama supports same-sex marriage 0
U.S. President Barack Obama (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
The answer is yes.
President Barack Obama now supports same-sex marriage, having been pushed to decide on the controversial issue because of senior officials in his own administration.
During a hastily organized interview with ABC News Wednesday, Obama said he now supports legal marriages for gay and lesbian couples, the result of an "evolution" of his views on the issue "over several years."
For days, the president has been under fire from his supporters and critics to clarify where he stood on the issue after Vice-President Joe Biden and
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said they supported same-sex marriages.
In the past, Obama has supported civil unions with equal rights for same-sex couples, but stopped short of legal marriages.
"I hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient... And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth," Obama said during the TV interview.
"But ... at a certain point, I 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 said his change of heart was the result of discussions with friends, family, neighbours and members of his own staff who are in "incredibly committed, monogamous same-sex relationships who are raising kids together."
He also said he believes it's a "generational thing" and that younger Americans -- even young Republicans he's met -- support same-sex marriages more so than older citizens.
This is potentially a risky move for the president, since many Americans, especially those in the important black and Hispanic voting blocks, oppose gay marriage.
A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows the issue evenly splits the American people, with 50% in support of legal marriage for gay couples and 48% opposed.
And on Tuesday, voters in North Carolina, a key swing state in the election, voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriages and civil unions outright in the state's constitution.
By supporting same-sex marriage, Obama could alienate some Democrats who oppose it and risk energizing Republicans to volunteer, raise money and campaign for Mitt Romney to defeat him.
Romney made clear during the hotly contested GOP primary that, if elected president, he would propose a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
On Wednesday, Romney re-iterated that he does not support same-sex marriages or civil unions with equal rights, but does support some spousal benefits -- such as hospital visitation rights, for example -- for homosexual couples.