Hillary Clinton publicly backs gay marriage

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday publicly endorsed gay marriage in a new video released by the gay rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign.

Clinton, who resigned Feb. 1 after four years of service, says in the video that she was eager to share her views on gay rights and gay marriage after the end of her time in public office.

"LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship—that includes marriage. That's why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law," Clinton says in the video.

Clinton's announcement fuels speculation about her potential 2016 candidacy for president.

When Clinton ran for president against Barack Obama in 2008, both she and Obama publicly backed civil unions for gay couples but stopped short of endorsing gay marriage.

But Obama publicly endorsed gay marriage during his 2012 election campaign, and the stance became a part of the Democratic Party's platform.

"The president believes that anytime a public official of stature steps forward to embrace a commitment that he shares to equality, he thinks it's a good thing," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday of Clinton's announcement.

Today, an endorsement of gay marriage appears to be a prerequisite for Democratic candidates running for future national office.

Clinton's public support for gay marriage puts her in line with fellow potential 2016 Democratic candidates Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who all publicly back gay marriage.

The Republican Party continues to officially oppose gay marriage in its platform, though there are notable dissensions.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio shocked many political observers last week when he announced his support for gay marriage, saying his opinion changed after he learned his son was gay.

"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective," the conservative lawmaker said, "and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have—to have a relationship like Jane [his wife] and I have had for over 26 years."

An ABC/Washington Post poll released on Monday found that 58 percent of registered voters support gay marriage—up from 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters—and 36 percent do not support legalizing gay marriage.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said homosexuality is a choice, while 62 percent rejected that view.

Monday's poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.