Obama Becomes First President to Support Legalizing Gay Marriage

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President Barack Obama has become the first president in U.S. history to openly support gay marriage. His shift in position on this issue comes just one day after North Carolina became the 29th state to ban both gay marriage and civil unions.

Vice President Joe Biden had perhaps inadvertently paved the way for Obama's endorsement earlier this week. In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, the vice president said that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples having the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.

Here is some of the key information to have emerged from Obama's interview and announcement regarding gay marriage.

* Obama articulated his support for gay marriage during an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, which is due to air in full on Wednesday evening.

* Obama's support of gay marriage is a shift from his position on the issue during his 2008 campaign, when he said that he only supported civil unions.

* In making his announcement, Obama said that he had previously "hesitated" on gay marriage because he thought "civil unions would be sufficient" to protect the rights of gay couples, as reported by MSNBC/NBC News.

* He also said that he was aware that the term "marriage" had certain cultural, traditional, and religious meaning to some people that would not necessarily lend itself to the acceptance of the use of the word in regards to gay and lesbian couples in the same context as heterosexual couples.

* Obama has faced increasing pressure from gay rights advocates to adjust his position on this issue. Gay and lesbian voters make up a significant portion of his base of support.

* A Gallup poll released in 2011 marked the first time that a majority of Americans had responded that they support legalizing gay marriage. Some 53 percent of respondents said that they supported the legalization of gay marriage, versus 45 percent who remained opposed.

* Gallup conducted the same survey between May 3-6 this year. For the second year in a row, the majority of Americans, some 50 percent, responded that they support legalizing gay marriage. An almost equal portion of those surveyed, 48 percent, said that they oppose it.

* Obama's position on this issue stands in direct contrast to that of his likely rival in the presidential elections this November. Campaigning in Colorado on Wednesday, GOP frontrunner and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney reiterated his own stance on gay marriage, saying that he "unequivocally opposes" it, according to CBS News. He also reiterated that he opposes civil unions as well.

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