President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to back same-sex marriage after affirming his support in an ABC News interview earlier this afternoon. The President's "evolved" position on the issue comes days after Vice President Joe Biden expressed his support on Meet The Press this past Sunday. Yesterday in North Carolina, however, voters passed Amendment 1, amending the state's constitution to define marriage between a man and a woman, further illustrating a divide still well and alive in America.
On how he came to today's decision:
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.
On the role young people, including his two daughters, had on his decision:
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, sexual orientation that they 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 opinions from college campuses Obama references were also evident in yesterday's North Carolina vote. Before the vote, a slew of student governments from universities in the state passed resolutions opposing the passage of the same sex marriage ban. After the vote, North Carolina State University students rallied to repeal the ban with an online petition.
But like the response to Amendment 1's final tally in North Carolina, the President's decision received a mixed response from the general public. The Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay and lesbian Republican grassroots organization, said in a statement: "That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous." But almost immediately after ABC broke the news, the hashtag #MarriageEquality started trending on Twitter, with a visible majority -- including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights -- tweeting their approval of the President's decision.
The President's stance differs from that of the leading Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While Obama stressed states' rights during today's interview, the candidates' personal stances will surely spark plenty of debate on a national level as election day nears. What do you think about President Barack Obama's decision to support same sex marriage? Take our poll below!
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