Hooray! President Obama just came out in support of full marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans, in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts this afternoon. Though he stressed that he was expressing his personal position—politically, he still supports states’ rights to decide on their own—his open endorsement for same-sex marriage is huge, especially considering the impact it might have on his upcoming run for re-election.
In the interview, Obama stated that, while he had previously felt that civil unions would be sufficient, he now believes in actual marriage equality. Here’s what he actually said:
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 also noted that many young people he’s spoken to–even those who don’t agree with many of his other policies–believe in marriage equality. He also credits long conversations with his wife, Michelle (known hero), and his relationship with his children, for helping him reach this decision.
The President had previously been cagey on the issue, noting frequently that he believed in equality for homosexual individuals, but never actually admitting support for true marriage equality–something that’s made members of the LGBT community critical of his politics. But today’s statement, which comes right as many people are hanging their head over a disappointing decision in North Carolina to amend the state’s constitution and define marriage as “between one man and one woman,” has so far been received positively…which isn’t surprising, given that over half of Americans support gay marriage, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.
You can watch the whole interview here.