In a bold — and long overdue — move, Barack Obama has become the first sitting president of the United States to openly support gay marriage.
In an exclusive interview with ABC, which airs Thursday on “Good Morning America”, Obama states, ”I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.”
However, in the past, he was hesitant to openly support same-sex marriage, and now he finally explains why.
“I had 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.”
So what changed?
“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,” he says.
His announcement comes on the heels of similar statements by members of his Cabinet; on Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage, in terms of civil rights, and Education Secretary Anne Duncan said the same on Monday.
Although Obama’s announcement won’t have much political effect, since the issue of gay marriage is primarily handled on a state-by-state basis, it will be interesting to see what bearing it has on his re-election campaign, particularly in swing states such as North Carolina, which voted against gay marriage this week.
According to a HuffPo source, “It is not nationwide [polling] we are talking about. We are talking about Virginia, North Carolina and other swing states. And we are talking about, would Karl Rove and his team stoop to using horribly grotesque and hateful tactics … and would that peel off 10,000 votes?”
While that remains to be seen, it’s great to see Obama take a clear side on the issue. And it seems that the youngest members of the Obama family had something to do with his decision.
“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,” says the president.
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