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Obama supports gay marriage: Historic switch carries risks (+video)

Obama supports gay marriage in an interview with ABC News, ending a period in which he said his views were 'evolving.' The move was instantly hailed and denounced by the opposing sides on the issue.

By Staff writer / May 9, 2012

President Barack Obama speaks in Washington on May 8.

Evan Vucci/AP



In a historic moment for the gay-rights movement, President Obama stated his full support Wednesday for the right of same-sex couples to marry.

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President Obama announced today that he supports gay marriage; he had opposed such unions in the 2008 campaign, but for the last two years indicated his view was "evolving."

Mr. Obama had long held that civil unions provided the equal rights that he felt gay and lesbian couples deserved, but over the last year and a half, he described his views as “evolving.”

Now, after comments on Sunday by Vice President Biden voicing support for gay marriage, as well as those of other top political allies, Obama said in an interview with ABC News that he backs full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The president made the statement a day after voters in North Carolina approved by a wide margin an amendment to their state constitution that bans not only gay marriage but also civil unions and potentially other kinds of domestic partnerships.

IN PICTURES: Same-sex marriage

"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,” Obama told Robin Roberts of ABC News in an interview that will run on “Good Morning America” Thursday.

Excerpts of the interview will air Wednesday evening on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer,” the network said.

Obama’s statement was widely applauded by gay-rights activists, who had long thought that, in his heart, the president backed gay marriage but was holding off on speaking publicly until after the Nov. 6 election.

“Today, President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society and that our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage,” Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay advocacy group, said in a statement.

Mr. Solmonese linked Obama’s status as the first black president to the cause of civil rights for gays and lesbians.


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