Three days after a “Meet The Press” interview in which Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage, President Barack Obama has said that he supports same-sex marriage as well.
In a interview with ABC News, he said, “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’s endorsement of same-sex marriage comes following a tumultuous three days for the administration on the issue following Biden’s interview. In a news briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that Biden and Obama shared similar, “evolving” views on gay marriage, even though Obama had yet to speak as openly on the issue as Biden had.
Obama indicated that his views on gay marriage had changed as a result of discussions with gay friends, his wife, and his daughters:
“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president.”
He also said that he had “hesitated” on gay marriage because he thought civil unions would be enough, and that he was wary of tension between those who opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds, as well as the rights of the LGBT community.
While economic issues will likely be the central focus of the November election, the issue of gay marriage has proven thorny in general elections past. In 2004, a vote on whether or not to ban gay marriage in the state of Ohio likely had a residual side effect of turning out enough Republicans to narrowly give George W. Bush the win in Ohio, and thus, a second term as president. Yesterday, North Carolina became the 30th state to adopt a ban on same-sex marriage.
Yet in spite of the vast number of states that ban gay marriage (with just six that allow it, along with other states whose laws fall somewhere in between), there is a sense among many that the tides are turning in support of same-sex marriage, as younger voters increasingly support it. Among swing state voters, 47% support it compared to 39% who do not. Outside the South, this figure rises to 53% in favor of gay marriage and 35% opposed. In the South, 48% of voters oppose same-sex marriage.
Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage, has accused Obama of flip-flopping on the issue. As a Illinois state senate candidate in 1996, he expressed support for gay marriage, but did change his view later. In a way, Obama has now come full circle on the issue.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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