Barack Obama has become the first US president to support gay marriage in public, encouraging gay rights groups to herald his comments as ‘a turning point in American civil rights’.
Obama stated his position during a televised interview:
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, (…) But, I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbours (…) 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.
With Mitt Romney, the man set to be Obama’s opponent in November’s presidential poll openly against same sex marriages, the issue is likely to figure in the election campaign.
New Yorker Mark Gilkes said: “I don’t see it hurting him that much. Like I said, the gay community is so vast, and they vote, you know? So therefore, you have a win-win situation for him.”
Angie Macdonald from Florida said: “Every president really should understand that everyone is going to have different views about it. So I really think he should be more, kinda general based on it.”
With 29 US states having already banned gay marriage, Obama is taking an election risk. One Democratic strategist warned that Republicans would most likely try to use it as a wedge in the African American community.