Obama endorses gay marriage
Washington, May 10 (IANS/EFE) President Barack Obama for the first time said he believes same-sex couples should be able to get married in an interview given to ABC Wednesday.
Obama - who to date has only said that his opinions on the matter of gay marriage were "evolving" - declared that marriage between same-sex couples should be legal.
"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," the president said in the interview conducted in the Oval Office.
With his remarks, the president has placed himself in the middle of a subject that had become one of the biggest issues in the US election campaign in recent days.
Vice President Joe Biden recently said he feels "comfortable" with same-sex couples getting married and Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered explicit support for the idea.
On Tuesday, North Carolina, one of the key states in the presidential election in November and where the Democratic Party is planning to hold its convention to officially nominate Obama as its candidate, approved an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting marriage between people of the same sex.
"I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient," Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts. "I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word 'marriage' was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth."
During his mandate, the president has abolished the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regulation that prohibited homosexuals who admitted their sexual orientation from serving in the US armed forces.
As a Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, Obama gave his support to civil unions between people of the same sex, but he expressed his opposition to gay marriage.
Gay marriage is legal in the states of New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as in the District of Columbia.
In addition, in Washington state same-sex couples will be able to marry as of June 7 and in Maryland gay marriage will be legal starting in 2013.
Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island allow civil unions between homosexuals.
Half of Americans support the legal recognition of homosexual marriages, according to a survey released Tuesday by Gallup.
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