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Wednesday, May 9th 2012 — Barack Obama became the first sitting president of the United States of America to announce his support for same-sex marriage.

During a sit-down interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts (see video below), Obama spoke about the issue in deep personal terms and affirms his unequivocal support for same-sex couples to marry.

In the interview that will be aired in full on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this Thursday, he said, "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally… 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.”



This statement is widely regarded as an act of political bravery and gamble on the president’s behalf. To the wider gay rights community, this is seen as a major victory. The community has been pushing him to declare his support for marriage equality for several years. This affirmation comes after the issue came under spotlight again with Vice President Joseph Biden telling NBC’s “Meet The Press” that he was personally comfortable with same-sex marriage with Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying the same.

Just Tuesday evening, the state of North Carolina passed an amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. This amendment caused the president to express his disappointment with the measure which also has wider implications on even heterosexual couples currently in any sort of union other than marriage. It is believed that as the political pressure continued to mount, the president finally chose to speak out on Wednesday.

The president added that, “…it’s interesting, some of this is also generational. 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. 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.”

The president's support of same-sex marriage will have little political impact, from a practical standpoint because much of the activity on the issue is currently occurring in the states and the courts.

Already the Obama administration's Department of Justice has stopped defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. Legislation to overturn DOMA outright would likely be blocked by congressional Republicans.

The more promising path for same-sex marriage advocates remains a friendly hearing by the United States Supreme Court.

Still, the symbolism of Obama's remarks is hard to ignore. In becoming the first president to publicly support marriage equality, he sets the bar for its political acceptance. He also has the ability to shape public opinion further on the matter.

This article was adapted from The Huffington Post

Timeline of Obama's 'Evolving' on Same-Sex Marriage




 

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