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Obama 1st US president to endorse same sex marriage

Last updated on: May 10, 2012 09:05 IST

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US President Barack Obama has publicly endorsed same sex marriage, putting an end to days of speculation about his "evolving views" on the issue.

In an interview to the ABC's Good Morning America to be aired on Thursday, Obama said his views on the issue have evolved now and he thinks that "same-sex couples should be able to get married."

It may be termed as a historic moment in the civil rights history of America, as no other sitting President has earlier supported marriage between people of the same sex.

Obama was also compelled to clear his "evolving" stand on the fiercely divisive issue in US politics after Republicans in North Carolina turned out in force on May 8 to vote to strengthen the state's gay marriage ban.

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Image: President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House
Photographs: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbours, 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 to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told ABC News' Robin Roberts.

At the same time, Obama clarified that this was his "personal" stand, and he still supports the concept of states' deciding the issue on their own.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, played a role in his decision making process, Obama said.

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Photographs: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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However, he exuded confidence that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters' comfort with the concept.

"It's interesting, some of this is also generational," he said.

"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," Obama said.

"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," Obama said.

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Image: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, right, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office
Photographs: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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Responding to questions, Obama said the First Lady thinks the same way.

"This is something that, you know, we've talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and 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," said the US President.

"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," Obama said.

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Image: First Lady Michelle Obama stands behind the President as he makes a phone call
Photographs: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Tags: Obama , US

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