In a one-on-on exclusive interview with ABC “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, President Barack Obama finally did what his vice president did on Sunday — and announced his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.
“I have to tell you, as I said, I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue,” Obama said. “I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.” (RELATED: Conservative gay group: Obama follows ‘religion of politics’ on marriage)
“And that’s why in addition to everything we’ve done in this administration, rolling back ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ so that, you know, outstanding Americans can serve our country, whether it’s no longer defending the Defense Against Marriage Act, which tried to federalize what has historically been state law — I’ve stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community.”
According to Obama, he hedged on the issue because he originally thought approving “civil unions” for gay couples would be an appropriate compromise.
“I hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted,” he continued. “And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, you know, the word ‘marriage’ was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”
“But I have to tell you that over the course of several years — as I talk to friends and family and neighbors — when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they’re not able to commit themselves in a 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.”
Roberts’ complete interview with the president is set to air Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” with a partial airing Wednesday on “World News Tonight.”