He is the first president to support the issue.
"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 ABC News Wednesday.
The president, who has long expressed support for civil unions, announced his decision following days of a seemingly endless debate on same-sex marriage spurred by declarations of unequivocal support for the issue made by Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Obama said that the decision was personal and that he still believes that states should be able to make their own decisions about whether to legalize gay marriage.
He also said that an increasing number of Americans are growing more comfortable with the concept, but that younger generations have already embraced it, including college Republicans, who disagree with him on most other issues, and his daughters.
“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,” Obama said.
Rival Mitt Romney has no intention of changing his perspective, however.
"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," the GOP’s presumed nominee said in an interview with Denver-based KDVR-TV. "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not."
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