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In interview, Obama explains his evolution on gay marriage

May 09, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli

In announcing his decision to now support same-sex marriage, President Obama also shed new light on his initial hesitation on the issue.

Speaking Wednesday with ABC News' Robin Roberts, Obama said that he and his administration have long "stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community," pointing to the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, among others.

"I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient," he 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."

That changed, Obama said, as he reflected more on the relationships of friends and staff and the feelings of gay members of the military who "feel constrained."

"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," he concluded.

In the interview, Obama also reflected on the rapid change in public opinion on the issue, particularly among younger generations.

"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," he said.

Obama noted that his daughters have friends who have same-sex parents.

"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," he said.

Obama said his wife shares his view now, and he spoke of how they reconciled it with their faith.

"We are both practicing Christians, and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, 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," he said. "I think 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 as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president."

Original source: In interview, Obama explains his evolution on gay marriage

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