President Obama culminated a remarkable shift in his views on same sex marriage by telling ABC News that he now believes “same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Just three days ago, Vice President Joseph Biden on “Meet the Press” said he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage, pushing the White House into an uncomfortable position of trying to differentiate between Biden’s position and that of the president, whose views were still “evolving,” according to his spokesman Jay Carney.
Well, apparently the evolution is now complete, because Obama said he now believes people of the same sex should be able to get married.
“Over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are incredibly committed in monogamous relationships, same sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors who out their fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that same sex couples should be able to get married,” the president said.
Almost immediately, the sides began lining up around the president’s stunning change in White House policy.
Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, who is opposed to gay marriage and even supports a Constitutional amendment to forbid it, implied that Obama was now the flip-flopper—a charge that has frequently been leveled at Romney.
“He previously said he opposed same-sex marriage,” Mr. Romney said. “You’ll be able to make that determination on your own.”
“I am standing with the President and I hope you will, too,” said a statement from Patty Murray of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “As a result of taking this stand, President Obama will face attacks from every corner of the Republican Party. Everyone from Mitt Romney to the tea partiers will unite behind this issue to try to end his presidency. That’s why it is so important that we stand with the President now.”
The president’s evolution came a day after voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, 61 percent to 39 percent, highlighting the possible political peril in his position. But with national polls showing that half of all Americans are in support of gay marriage, the White House apparently calculated that they would rather be on the side of equal rights for gays—even if it brought an inevitable firestorm of conservative attack.