Obama Same-Sex Backing a Contrast to North Carolina's Amendment One

In Wake of North Carolina Gay Marriage Ban, President Steps Up to Endorse Equality

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Less than a day after North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, President Barack Obama has stepped up to endorse marriage equality for all Americans.

In an interview with ABC News, the president dispelled all doubts about his previously "evolving" views on gay marriage.

"Same-sex couples should be able to get married," he declared.

"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," Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts.

But in North Carolina, the president's remarks were little comfort after Tuesday's vote.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections reports that Amendment 1, which defines marriage in the state constitution as a union of one man and one woman and also bans any other type of domestic legal union such as civil unions or domestic partnerships, passed by a wide margin. More than 1.3 million voters, or 61 percent, cast "yes" votes, while 832,000 people, or 39 percent, voted "no."

Tami Fitzgerald, leader of the pro-amendment Vote FOR Marriage NC, hailed the measure's passage as an affirmation of divine will.

"I think it sends a message to the rest of the country that marriage is between one man and one woman," she told a celebration of supporters Tuesday night. "The whole point is simply that you don't rewrite the nature of God's design based on the demands of a group of adults."

The Obama campaign said that the president was "disappointed" by the North Carolina vote. Obama campaign spokesman Cameron French released a statement Tuesday lamenting the "divisive and discriminatory" measures and affirming that gay couples deserve the same rights and protections as straight couples. But few expected the president to come out in full support of marriage equality until after this November's election. Obama's surprise announcement could cause problems in swing states like North Carolina and Ohio, where even many Democrats are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Other prominent members of the Obama administration had become increasingly vocal in their support for marriage equality in recent days. On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and said he is "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage. He was followed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who expressed his support for marriage equality Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Public opinion has been shifting in favor of marriage equality in recent decades. According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, fully half of all Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, up from just 27 percent in 1996.

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