President Barack Obama today endorsed same sex marriage, amid growing pressure from his party and supporters.
In an interview at the White House with ABC News, Obama said he's been supportive of civil unions for gays and lesbians, but has now decided "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 said.
The pressure on Obama to speak on gay marriage increased over the weekend when two of Obama's closest advisers – Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan – both expressed personal support for same-sex marriage.
Duncan, a close friend from Chicago days, was asked on television Monday whether he believes people should be allowed to legally wed members of their own gender. "Yes, I do," he said on MSNBC. Biden a day earlier had personally embraced same-sex marriage.
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties," Biden said Sunday on NBC.
Gay rights groups applauded both comments and worked to leverage pressure on Obama. But the decision to embrace gay marriage carries risks for Obama in culturally conservative areas -- and potentially among voters in swing states like North Carolina, which Tuesday became the 31st state to add an amendment on marriage to its constitution, with voters banning same-sex marriage and barring legal recognition of unmarried couples by state and local governments.
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