3:02 PM CDT, May 9, 2012
President Barack Obama, who previously said his views on the issue were "evolving," said Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage.
The announcement puts Obama squarely at odds with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex 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 said in an interview with ABC News.
The president once opposed same-sex marriage.
Obama was "disappointed" by Tuesday's vote on the issue in North Carolina, which he described as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, a spokesman said earlier Wednesday.
North Carolina voted to implement a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was already prohibited by state law. Supporters of the measure pushed for the constitutional amendment, arguing that it was needed to ward off future legal challenges.
Obama spoke Wednesday with ABC's Robin Roberts. The interview will appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday. Excerpts were to air Wednesday evening on "World News with Diane Sawyer."
His interview followed comments by other key administration figures.
Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday on NBC he was "absolutely comfortable" with couples of the same gender marrying, leading observers to wonder when Obama would again address the issue.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday also made headlines when he openly backed same-sex marriage rights. Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if he supports allowing individuals of the same gender to legally wed, Duncan replied: "Yes, I do."
Obama told Roberts that first lady Michelle Obama was involved in his decision.
"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," Obama said.
The new president of the Human Rights Campaign lauded Obama's decision.
"President Obama's words today will be celebrated by generations to come," Chad Griffin said. "For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, their president's words provide genuine hope that they will be first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream."
Obama told ABC that some opinions on the issue are "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, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality," he said.
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