(CNSNews.com) – Led by his own vice president, President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced what many people already suspected -- he supports homosexual marriage.
“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 reporter Robin Roberts.
Obama and the White House had previously said the president was "evolving" on the matter. As a candidate in 2008, Obama said he opposed same-sex marriage.
The president acknowledged it is a controversial matter, because “the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”
Word spread Wednesday morning that the ABC interview would take place at 1:30 p.m. ABC interrupted its regular programming to show a portion of the interview where Obama answered the question.
On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman. The Republican-leaning state that Obama won in 2008 is a likely swing state in the presidential race this year. The Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte, N.C., this summer.
Already, 31 other states have passed voter-approved constitutional amendments or laws to ban homosexual marriage, while no state referendum has succeeded in recognizing gay marriage. Six states have either court-ordered or legislature-approved laws recognizing homosexual marriage.
Also this week, Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both said in separate interviews that they personally support same-sex marriage.
Obama pointed out in the interview that he supported lifting the ban on gays in the military and that his Justice Department stopped defending the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act.
“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” Obama said in the interview.
“That’s why in addition to everything we’ve done in this administration, rolling back ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ so that outstanding Americans can serve our country, whether it’s no longer defending the Defense Against (sic) Marriage Act, which tried to federalize what has historically been state law, I’ve stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community,” he added.
The Defense of Marriage Act recognizes only traditional marriage for federal purposes. It further states that no state can be required to recognize a marriage from another state. Thus, if the law is repealed, it would effectively nationalize same-sex marriage.
“I hesitated on gay marriage in part, because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted,” Obama said. “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.
The president gave somewhat of an explanation on how he “evolved” on the matter.
“But I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I 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,” Obama said, “when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors that are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even now that ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is gone, because they’re 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.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Biden said, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.”
Duncan also said he supported homosexual marriage the next day on MSNBC.
Among the 30 states that banned gay marriage are liberal states such as California, Michigan and Maine. Same-sex marriage is now legal in six states – Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and Iowa – plus the District of Columbia.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the North Carolina vote Tuesday proves that same-sex marriage is not popular with mainstream voters and affirmed that it will likely be an issue in the presidential race.
"Considering that ten of the sixteen battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the President's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election," Perkins said in a statement.
"The President has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama," he added.