It is being hailed as a turning point in American civil rights. Barack Obama has become the first US president to publicly back gay 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 during a television interview.
Some think Obama is taking a gamble, with what is a highly controversial and divisive issue in the US.
His likely presidential election opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, is against gay marriage.
“I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was Governor and that I have expressed many times. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said.
Dozens of American states have passed legislation
banning same sex marriage. Obama’s declaration has provoked a strong public reaction.
“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,” said one man.
Another commented: “Personally, I don’t think he should give his honest opinion. I think it’s going to go either way. Every president really should understand that everyone is going to have different views about it.”
Some analysts think Obama’s words could lose him independent voters in the November presidential poll and also consolidate support for Romney among evangelical Christians.