US President Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first president in US history to personally endorse same-sex marriage, putting one of the most socially and culturally divisive issues in American politics at the forefront of his campaign for re-election.
After several years in which his personal views on gay marriage had been “evolving,” Obama said he felt it was “important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married”.
The president said his long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage softened after seeing gay and lesbian members of his staff — as well as US soldiers — who were in committed relationships but still felt “constrained” because they could not commit themselves to marriage.
However, Obama’s personal views have changed over time.
Obama’s declaration is certain to help the president raise money but it also risks alienating voters in some important constituencies.
Obama said his daughters were a major reason he changed his mind about gay marriage.
“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,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Opposition to gay marriages
While Us President Barack Obama, displayed his support for the cause, Mitt Romney, the near-certain Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor, said Wednesday he opposes both same-sex marriages and civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
Meanwhile, Australian PM Julia Gillard will continue to oppose gay marriage in Australia despite US President Barack Obama publicly endorsing it in a national television interview. Gillard said she stood by her beliefs and would not allow same-sex couples to marry.