Saying, "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 declared his support for legalizing same-sex marriage, the first time he has gone on record with this position. The announcement makes him the first sitting president to publicly support gay marriage.
In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News, the president said he has gone through an evolution on the issue -- he previously thought civil unions would "be sufficient" to guarantee LGBT people hospital visitation and other rights, and was sensitive to the sensitivity of the word "marriage" to a lot of people. ABC reports that the president is still in favor of leaving the decision to the states.
In the video excerpt released by ABC today, Obama said,
"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."
The interview will air in its entirety on Good Morning America Thursday morning. You can watch excerpts on World News With Diane Sawyer tonight.
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney affirmed his anti-gay marriage stance in an interview with FOX31 in Denver today, saying:
"I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not."
Obama's comments come a day after North Carolina passed a ban on same-sex marriage. The New York Times reports the president's decision to make this announcement "appears to have been driven by unexpected declarations of support" after Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and other cabinet members earlier this week.
Twitter Reaction to Obama's Support of Same-Sex Marriage
I have goosebumps after listening to Obama's firm support of Gay Marriage. YES.
If you believe Barack Obama will actually *do* anything to further the cause of gay rights, I have a camp in Guantanamo to sell you.
It's not called "flip-flopping" on an issue, folks. It's called "growing a pair" and finally really saying what you think.
@MittRomney I am really coming around to you.You have my vote...almost! If you just would live/let live and bend on gay marriage...please?
People are nothing but pawns in his reelection game. First, women. Now, LGBT. He's shoring up demographics he's lost.
Reading Twitter for long periods of time today just became thrilling thanks to @BarackObama. Once in a while Twitter sets the world afire.
6 yrs into evolution, Obama supports gay marriage. I think he deserves a birthing gift. Folks in NC may say, a day late, an election short.
I knew I voted for that guy for a reason.
If the President of the United States can evolve, so can the rest of the nation. History is coming, don't get left behind. #gaymarriage
What do you think about Obama's announcement?
More from entertainment