Speaking just hours after North Carolina became the 30th state in the country to outlaw same-sex marriage, President Barack Obama said in a specially-convened interview that “personally” he supported them, reports The Telegraph.
“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,” Obama said.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” he said in a sit-down interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
President Obama also said that his daughters were an influential factor and that his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, shared his views.
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president said. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality,” the president said.
The president continued: “They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples.”
“There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.”
“It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective,” President Obama added.
According to Reuters, Obama, who ended the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that had prevented gays from serving openly in the U.S. military, pointed out that his thinking was affected by watching members of his staff who are in committed same-sex relationships.
“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,” he said.
“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,” the president said.
The Obama administration already refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
The interview came three days after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages, sending the White House scrambling to maintain their delicately balanced stance.
“This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city is in one of six states that allow same-sex marriage.
“Today’s announcement ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election,” Tony Perkins, a prominent evangelical leader and president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, said. “The president has provided a clear contrast between him and … Mitt Romney.”
Meanwhile, Romney, who was campaigning in Oklahoma City, said he believes “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.” He has also noted that he supports hospital visitation rights and other domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples.
However, according to The Huff Post, President Obama’s approval of same-sex marriage sent Twitter into overdrive, with celebrities, media personalities and known human rights advocates eager to express their opinion.
Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Martin and Jane Lynch were amont a great number of gay and lesbian celebrities to thank Obama for his “evolved” stance, while Andy Cohen, Suze Orman and Dan Savage also voiced their thoughts.