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Obama says gay marriage 'right thing to do' (+video)

He appeared in front of a gay and lesbian leadership group at a fundraiser, in addition to appearances on "The View" and at Barnard College.

By Julie PaceThe Associated Press / May 14, 2012

President Obama delivers the commencement address to graduates at all-female Barnard College, on the campus of Columbia University, in New York, Monday, May 14.

Richard Drew/AP


President Barack Obama on Monday defended his view that gay couples should have the right to marry, saying that the country has never gone wrong when it "expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody."

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In the wake of President Obama's announcement of support last week, gay marriage has become a central question for the campaign.

"That doesn't weaken families. That strengthens families," he told gay and lesbian supporters and others at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council. "It's the right thing to do."

The remarks were his first to such an audience since he announced his personal support for same-sex marriage last week. They came on a day that Obama was making a targeted appeal to three core voting blocs — women, young people, and gays and lesbians. He gave a commencement address to Barnard College, a women's college, and taped an interview on "The View," a popular day-time talk show aimed at women.

Democrats hope Obama's politically risky embrace of gay marriage will re-energize supporters who had been frustrated by his previous assertions that his views on the hot-button social issue were "evolving."

Women, young people and gay voters all made up crucial voting blocs for Obama in the 2008 election. With the president locked in a close race with Republican rival Mitt Romney, his campaign is focused on rallying support among those groups once again.

"At root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect, and everybody deserves a shot," he told about 200 supporters at the fundraising event.

Obama also called for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. His administration has refused to defend the law in court challenges, and while Obama has voiced support for its repeal before, he specifically listed repeal as a goal.

Romney has said he believes that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. Although Obama did not mention Romney's stance, he cast his challenger as a "rubber stamp" for congressional Republicans and cited his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, as a far more independent Republican who believed in climate change and in the need for overhauling the immigration system.


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