President Obama affirmed for the first time that he personally supports same-sex marriage. It's the first time that a U.S. president has openly supported gay and lesbian marriages. Andrew Siff reports.
Supporters of gay marriage in New York applauded President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday that he thinks "same-sex couples should be able to get married."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is marrying her partner Kim Catullo on May 19, said in a statement that Obama had given hope to a new generation of gay youths "who will grow up knowing there is nothing wrong with who they are, and that no matter how bad things may seem, the president, and the United States of America, stands with them."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he didn't talk to Obama about the issue during the president's visit to Albany on Tuesday, but the president's decision will prompt Americans to reconsider the issue, as they did in New York last year.
"He referenced the point that New York went out of its way to make it clear this was a civil discussion, and not a religious discussion and the New York law makes that clear," Cuomo said. "I think the American people get that."
Obama announced his support in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, after opposing gay marriage during the 2008 campaign but saying more recently that his views were "evolving."
Obama told ABC he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue of gay marriage on their own, but he also said Wednesday he was disappointed in North Carolina's passage of a constitutional amendment to deny gay couples legal recognition.
"I think when the president stands up and makes this statement it will now resonate all across this nation, it will bounce off the air waves coast to coast, so he is just by doing the interview and making the statement he has made a tremendous contribution to the effort," Cuomo said.
Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, a conservative minister, disagreed. He said Democrats even in blue states such as New York are at risk over the legalization of gay marriage.
"It is well known that in every state where the people have had the opportunity to vote, including in North Carolina this week, the people have rejected gay marriage." Diaz said. "The president has hurt the Democrats' chances of regaining the (state) Senate and will hurt many Democratic candidates throughout the nation."
Sen. Thomas K. Duane, a Manhattan Democrat, who is the Legislature's first openly gay man, said he never expected to see the day.
"If you would have told me five years ago that a sitting president of the United States would publicly express the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens to marry, and for full equality of our families, I would not have believed it," Duane said.
Lynn Faria, interim executive director of the gay rights group Empire Pride Agenda, said Obama's statement will fuel the movement.
"It's great news, but it doesn't mean the fight for fairness and equality is over," she said. "It certainly changes the dialogue when you have a sitting U.S. president make an endorsement of marriage equality."
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Wednesday that Obama was playing politics, and reiterated presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's view that marriage is between one man and one woman.
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