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Obama voices his support for gay marriage

FILE - In this May 8, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in Washington. President Barack Obama faced mounting pressure Wednesday to express support for same-sex marriage after a setback for gay-rights advocates in North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE - In this May 8, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in Washington. President Barack Obama faced mounting pressure Wednesday to express support for same-sex marriage after a setback for gay-rights advocates in North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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President Barack Obama is seen on television monitors in the White House briefing room in Washington, Wednesday, May 9, 2012. President Barack Obama told an ABC interviewer that he supports gay marriage. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — On the fence no longer, President Barack Obama declared his unequivocal support for gay marriage on Wednesday, a historic announcement that gave the polarizing social issue a more prominent role in the 2012 race for the White House.

The announcement was the first by a sitting president, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney swiftly disagreed with it. "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said while campaigning in Oklahoma.

Gay rights advocates cheered Obama's declaration, which they had long urged him to make. Beyond the words, one man who married his gay partner in Washington, D.C., was stirred to send a $25 contribution to the president's campaign. "Making a contribution is the best way to say thank you," said Stuart Kopperman.

Obama revealed his decision after a series of events that made clear the political ground was shifting. He once opposed gay marriage but more recently had said his views were "evolving."

In an interview with ABC in which he blended the personal and the presidential, Obama said "it wouldn't dawn" on his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that some of their friends' parents would be treated differently than others. He said he also thought of aides "who are in incredibly committed monogamous same-sex relationships who are raising kids together."

Obama added that he thought about "those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even though now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage."

The president said he was taking a personal position. Aides said the president's shift would have no impact on current policies and he continues to believe that marriage is an issue best decided by states.

"I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient," Obama said in the interview. He added, "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."

Now, he said, "it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."

He spoke on the heels of a pair of events that underscored the sensitivity of an issue that has long divided the nation.

Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview on Sunday that he is completely comfortable with gays marrying, a pronouncement that instantly raised the profile of the issue. White House aides insisted the vice president hadn't said anything particularly newsworthy, but gay rights groups cited Biden's comments in urging the president to announce his support.

On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina — a potential battleground in the fall election — approved an amendment to the state constitution affirming that marriage may only be a union of a man and a woman.

Additionally, several of the president's biggest financial backers are gay, and some have prodded him publicly to declare his support for same-sex marriage.

Senior administration officials said Obama came to the conclusion that gay couples should have the right to legally marry earlier this year and had planned to make his views known publicly before the Democratic National Convention in early September. They conceded that Biden's comments accelerated the timeline, but said the vice president's remarks were impromptu and not part of a coordinated effort to soften the ground for a shift by the president. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

As recently as eight years ago, conservatives in several states maneuvered successfully to place questions relating to gay marriage on the election day ballot as a way of boosting turnout for President George W. Bush's re-election.

Now, nationwide polling suggests increasing acceptance of gay marriage. In a national survey released earlier this month, Gallup reported 50 percent of those polled said it should be legal, and 48 percent were opposed. Democrats favored by a margin of roughly 2-1, while Republicans opposed it by an even bigger margin. Among independents, 57 percent expressed support, and 40 percent were opposed.

Whatever the polls, the political crosscurrents are tricky, and administration officials conceded as much.

Some top aides argued that gay marriage is toxic at the ballot box in competitive states like North Carolina and said the vote there this week shows that opposition to the issue is a rallying point for Republicans.

Shifting his emphasis, even briefly, could open Obama up to Republican criticism that he is taking his eye off the economy, voters' No. 1 issue.

Yet some prominent gay donors have said publicly they wanted Obama to announce his support for gay marriage. Other Democratic supporters claim Obama's decision could energize huge swaths of the party, including young people. He also could appeal to independent voters.

By day's end Wednesday, the Obama campaign had emailed a clip of the interview and a personal statement from the president to its vast list of supporters, drawing attention to his stance.

The decision also creates an area of clear contrast between Obama and his Republican rival as he argues that he's delivered on the change he promised four years ago.

Obama said he sometimes talks with college Republicans on his visits to campuses, and while they oppose his policies on the economy and foreign policy, "when it comes to same sex equality, or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are more comfortable with it."

Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage and a leading supporter of the constitutional amendment approved in North Carolina on Tuesday, said she welcomed Obama's announcement at the same time she disagreed with it.

"Politically, we welcome this," she said. "We think it's a huge mistake. President Obama is choosing the money over the voters the day after 61 percent of North Carolinians in a key swing state demonstrated they oppose gay marriage."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi instantly sought political gain from the president's announcement. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued an email in her name that asked recipients to "stand with President Obama." Such requests are often followed by a solicitation for campaign donations.

Obama said first lady Michelle Obama also was involved in his decision and joins him in supporting gay marriage.

"In the end, the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people," he said.

Acknowledging that his support for same-sex marriage may rankle religious conservatives, Obama said he thinks about his faith in part through the prism of the Golden Rule — treating others the way you would want to be treated.

"That's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I'll be as president," Obama said.

Six states — all in the Northeast except Iowa — and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.


AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and Jessica Gresko in Washington and Philip Elliott in Colorado contributed to this report.

Comments

news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

Pimping for votes on a subject that is not important to the success of this country.

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Jan 2 years, 3 months ago

He is standing on principle. Romney is the one pimping for votes. He hired an openly gay then, under pressure from a group that is opposed to gays, asked him to resign. A true leader would have stood up and said, "this is the best man for the job and what he does in the bedroom doesn't affect his work".

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 3 months ago

With all respect, I find it hard to believe any current, high-profile politician stands on anything other than a desire for votes. Call me jaded. Obama told Pastor Rick Warren in 2008 that he defined marriage as between one man and one woman, although he would not support a Constitutional amendment defining marriage, as that should be a function of the states. Look, politicians are human, they change their minds. If we accused everyone who changed their mind of "flip-flopping" then we'd never accomplish anything in this country.

I would argue that true leaders don't play semantics games for the sake of gaining votes, but both Romney and Obama, and every politician who came before them, has done that. Speaks well of our leadership, eh?

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

This is mostly the fault of the voters for not electing their conscience but the money and the media

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roaads1 2 years, 3 months ago

Ford=Not all politicians. There's one still running that has never flip flopped and never taken money from a lobbyist.

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

So President Obama all of a sudden supports gay marriage now that he is up for re-election. An endorsement that is bound to make headline news and sway mindless liberal voters. Romney is not our President, not yet! Romney is not in the politcal fight for his life and about to lose his job.

A true leader would have stood up for Gay rights the minute he took the oath of office, if that is what he truely supported.

The gay community is being used for votes and Obama will do nothing about their so-called civil rights. He had his chance.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

we are talking about marriage, not Obama politics. Get to the facts, not Liberal facts. I really don't care what people feel about this subject. I am voting for real change (in presidents).

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dman 2 years, 3 months ago

If it takes changes in your stance on an important moral stance to get votes, then what kind of backbone do you really have when it comes to making other important financial or military decisions? POLITICIANS...Stick to your platform, Stick to your guns. That is how you get re-elected.
People in this world make choices. Their choice to be in love with a gay person is their choice. These folks knew what they were getting into when they decided to go down the path of living with "partners". One of those things were "most states do not recognize partnerships that are between people of the same sex." So, Folks need to live with it. Why should government and the people of this country change the original moral fiber this country was founded on because YOU chose your love path? Get over it. And live with your choices in life.

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Jan 2 years, 3 months ago

Clarification please! Does this only apply to an incumbent President. A man that has only slightly altered his stance since he has supported other gay rights previously. Or are you just a hypocrite that prefers to ignore the Romney's previous statements in support of gay rights, including gay marriage and not does a complete 180 stating that he will never favor gay marriage? Of course, anyone that chooses to ignore the scientific proof that being gay is not a choice and honestly believes that someone would choose a life style that puts him/her at risk from the mistreatment by the bigots of this world, will blindly follow Romney's bigotry and praise him for it.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

maybe gay tendencies means you should look for help if it isn't something by choice. Still doesn't mean you have a right to become legally married. Don't see many animals in the wild going through this issue. Even wild animals believe marriage is between a male and a female.

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jack 2 years, 3 months ago

The idea that MY candidate takes a stand for altruistic reasons, while YOUR candidate is a flip-flopping vote panderer is absurd. BOTH are playing to political expediency.

dman- I'm curious; exactly when in life did you make your conscious choice to be straight or gay? Did you just wake up one morning and decide, or did you flip a coin or something? Just wondering.

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dman 2 years, 3 months ago

Right now, I am using my right to say "that I dont believe that we should allow gay marriages!" Me, personally, I have seen in my small little segment of life, many gay males and females turn from being in a normal man to woman marriage...then get divorced...and go into a gay relationship. Is that not a choice? Or is that the old "I just didnt know myself" scenario. Again, my opinion...that is Hogwash!!

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

I have children in high school and college, and believe me, being gay is more often than not a lifestyle choice these days. Some of the things I hear about sex and relationships in this age group is shocking. My kids are pretty open about it and tell me and the wife some of the eye opening details. We can talk with our kids subjectively about almost anything.

Personally I have a former co-worker that claims he was born gay, and was in a gay relationship for a number of years. Now the guy is married to a woman and they have several kids of their own doing. I am not denying that there are not true gays and lesbians in this World, but IMO there are just not that many that truely are.

Since I can remember there has been a numbers game to make it seem that that there are more gays and lesbians. This decades old agenda has created a comfort zone for the lifestyle we so often see today. There is comfort in numbers. Our me-centric society has no boundaries.

Human rights involving hate crimes and basic rights discrimination is all that is guaranteed. Anything beyond that open the door for everything plus the kitchen sink.

After this, what is next?

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

He will say anything for a vote at this point. He is like a used car salesman, anything to close the deal.

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Susan 2 years, 3 months ago

And what happens when NAMBLA wants the legal age for marriage lowered to 13?

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

Correct me if I am wrong, but no one has stated that Romney did not flip flop to attract voters. However, Romney is not our President. Romney will receive votes or not based on what he does during the campaign.

Obama is our President. He has been evading this political hot potato since HE was running for POTUS. This is classic Obama leadership and it is painfully obvious that this is a stunt to try and save his job. What better PR to be the first POTUS to openly support gay marriage, the timing is priceless.

It is politically correct and progressive to support gay marriage. You liberals love to look down your noses on anyone that you feel is not tolerant of your beliefs. But guess what, toerance goes both ways.

Obama is pulling out all of his cards. President Obama is attempting to use the gay community for his political gain and every liberal is hysterically giddy at his sudden change of heart. Right!

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Jan 2 years, 3 months ago

Absurd. Romney wants to be president so he should act like a president. If you are hiring somebody for a job, you should look at their resume, past performance and check references. If you limit yourself to self inflating job interview, you will not get the best man for the job. Romney's term as governor was mediocre and he has switched his stance on so many issues, no one knows what he would do in office. We do know that he has put companies into bankruptcy as a means of firing worker to rehire them without benefits and at lower pay. This is not the ethical standards of someone that deserves the presidency.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

You forget that in a private job, flip-flopping make get you fired. In politics, it is a way of life. Only the very strong will not flip-flop and we haven't had a president like that in a long time. I can't remember when.

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 3 months ago

Jan- As you say, "If you are hiring somebody for a job, you should look at their resume, past performance and check references. If you limit yourself to self inflating job interview, you will not get the best man for the job." That's exactly what happened with Obama.

Barack Obama had no executive experience before being elected President. His entire private sector experience encompassed six months or so that he referred to in one of his books as time spent behind enemy lines. He was President of Harvard Law Review, yet no one has found a single legal review written in his name. He won his first election in Chicago because, through judicious application of legal challenges, he made it so that only his name, and no other, appeared on the ballot.

You may say that Romney's run as governor was mediocre, and that may be true. Still, that is infinitely more executive experience than obama had prior to gaining the Presidency. The truth about Obama is simple, he's better at winning than leading; he's better at campaigning than presiding.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

Obama never even ran a lemonaid stand and it shows. How do you like your $3.50 a gallon gas? It was down to $1.39 a gallon in January of 2009 in Lawrenceville. This is what is choking off our economy. Keystone Pipeline??? Obama is a fool!

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Say_that_again 2 years, 3 months ago

  1. Gas prices went higher during Bush's administration.
  2. The pipe line that is being delayed is to a port in Texas for export, not for domestic use, and will have no effect on the supply in the US. Parts if the Keystone project have been approved and built. These are the ones that go to refineries for US consumption.
  3. The government should not be out for a profit so the business mindset is the wrong one for the government. Its not about how many people you can layoff to increase the bottom line.
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FordGalaxy 2 years, 3 months ago

To reply to your points: 1. Yes, gas prices did go higher, and they also came down. But you didn't have members of the Bush Administration saying that it was a goal of the administration to get gas prices to the same levels as Europe. 2. True, the pipeline is not a key component of domestic supply, but it will supply domestic jobs for the long term, as it will require builders and maintainers. You'd think Obama would be jumping at the chance to add jobs. 3. Maybe the business mindset needs to be applied to government, otherwise they'll continue spending this country into oblivion without worrying about it. Government can operate at a loss for years because they can just take more from the citizenry. A business cannot operate longterm at a loss with having to shut down.

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Say_that_again 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the laugh! It is unreal how you seem like you check facts before responding then make the most ridiculous statements. Obama never said that it was a goal of the administration to get prices to the same levels as Europe. This is an example of pundits picking up a statement by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) during hearing of House energy committee, March 8, 2012. You also have supported free capitalism in the past but don't seem to have a problem with subsidies for the oil companies and special tax breaks giving them windfall profits. Obama has been creating jobs. He has created more jobs in three years than Bush did in eight. What the heck! Lets build the pipe line, do significant damage to the environment. Cleaning up the probable oil spills will even create more jobs. Surprised to see you are for tax increases! That's the way governments increase profits!

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 3 months ago

I didn't say Obama said he wanted to increase gas prices, but thanks for putting words in my mouth. Steven Chu, the Energy Secretary is one who said that. Obama, though, did say that under his policies energy cost would necessarily skyrocket, and that he would bankrupt the coal industry, or at least anyone trying to get into the coal industry. Joe Biden is on record as saying that coal is basically a terrorist, so I guess West Virginia is a terrorist state and we need to go to war right?

As for your jobs statistic, Under eight years of George W Bush, there was a net gain of 188,000 private sector jobs. Under the first year of Obama, the private sector lost over 4 million jobs. Or are you counting the jobs created or saved. That's a lovely little bureau of labor stat that's basically a lie. "Did you lose your job lately?" "No." "Then Obama saved your job, we're counting that as a plus." Or the skewed census statistics, where a person was hired, fired, re-hired, fired again, hired once more, and then fired again, and they counted that as 3 jobs created.

And how did you infer that I support increased taxes? I'll tell you true, I, and many conservatives like me, really wouldn't have a problem with a higher tax rate, if we knew that the money was going to proper, Constitutionally-authorized places, and that government was efficient with the money. However, government has proven itself bloated, corrupt, and inefficient. Yet liberals think somehow life will be better if we jsut had a bigger, stronger government. I haven't figured that one out yet.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

They all flip-flop to get a vote. Are you all that stupid to think otherwise?

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

So now you are comparing Romney's resume as Governor to Obama's no experience and poor job performance ratings? You limited yourself by voting for someone with zero qualifications and look at what our country got in return. Lets not forget that Obama has put our country into deeper debt during his tenure as POTUS. Hysterical that you would compare bankrupting our Country in comparison to Romney's failures. You are right, this is not the standard of someone that deserves the Presidency. You Jan, are a glaring example of the Democratic voter. You got exactly what you voted for. Hiring someone that promises change and delivers nothing. Now, all of a sudden, Obama is enlightened about gay marriage yet Romney is a flip flopper. It is obvious from the first campaign that Obama will promise and say whatever it takes to get him elected. This change of heart is a lie to save his job. Absurd.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Why are people surprised by this? Obama said over his dad's grave, I will follow your dreams. This is one of them: to divide and conquer the U.S. so it falls from dominance. Do your own research if you don't believe me. Obama has passed up Carter as the worse president this country has ever had. One that is dividing everyone and doing his best to get his dad's Liberal/Socialist agenda thrust upon us. He hate success by any means other than what a government can give to someone. A Liberal's trait is to do for oneself at the expense of all others. It is such a shame that the people on welfare and food stamps can't see this for their lack of education and common sense. 90% of them don't want to lose all that free money for not working. The gays are just about as ignorant of what is happening as those other folks. Divide and conquer is Obama's battle cry and the American citizen and illegal have become dumber.

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roaads1 2 years, 3 months ago

He's going to do real well in Gwinnett. This is now his third position on this subject. I guess instead of flip flopping he will just "evolve" on every issue.

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BuzzG 2 years, 3 months ago

With 7 out of 10 black babies being born without a male in the household, it seems to me that the family needs all the support it can get. And that would include celebrating marriage and keeping it as a requirement for bearing and rearing children.

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 3 months ago

Hypothetical question, BuzzG. Let's say a man and woman get married. The woman gets pregnant. However, prior to giving birth, the husband dies. What then?

i'm not saying I agree or disagree, I just think that people need to be really careful when they start desiring that others be "required" to do something.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Obama's speech just lost another 35 more votes in my area. Obama should be impeached for more reasons that Bill Clinton ever should have been. It was Clinton's personal life that got him in trouble, which shouldn't matter to voters. It is Obama's desperate Liberal agenda to destroy our Constitution that should impeach him. I am sure he had his fingers crossed when he took an oath to uphold our Constitution. It is obvious he doesn't believe in the U.S. Constitution as it was written.

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tressag5 2 years, 3 months ago

yawn This is a non-issue. No one in this forum will vote for or against either candidate over this issue. It just gives many of you the opportunity to puff up and be outraged. Besides, does anyone really think Georgia is in play for the president?

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