President Obama today endorsed marriage equality in an ABC News interview with Robin Roberts after the White House experienced a tumultuous three days of questioning by the press spurred by Vice President Joe Biden's Meet the Press remarks on Sunday. Biden remarked that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay people marrying, a statement that took him to the left of the President, who has said since he took office that he is "evolving" on the issue.
"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."
Added the President:
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational. 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, believe in equality. 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.”
The President also cited his faith in the announcement and the influence of First Lady Michelle Obama:
“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, you know, I, you know, 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. And 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.”
More clips of the interview are scheduled to air this evening on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and ABC's Good Morning America Thursday.
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Obama's position on the issue up till this point has been seen as a purely political one, and has been dogged by a 1996 survey he filled out as a candidate for the Illinois state senate in 1996, which stated "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
ABC News posted a timeline on Obama's marriage evolution.