President Barack Obama told ABC News he supports gay marriage, becoming the first U.S. president to take the position.
Obama told ABC reporter Robin Roberts that he had initially opposed the idea of gay marriage, that he felt civil unions may have sufficed in granting gay couples equal rights.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient," he said. "I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
The President's full remarks
The president said he had a change of heart after long talks with friends and family.
"I have friends, I have people who work for me who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions," Obama told ABC. "And they are extraordinary people. And this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.”
The announcement came shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's remarks on MSNBC's "Meet the Press," in which he said he feels "absolutely comfortable" with the idea of gay marriage.
In LA: Shock, celebration and skepticism
The President's remarks echoed through City Hall Wednesday, bringing one city councilman to tears. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man elected to the council, called the news “a huge move.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Eric Garcetti, who performed marriage ceremonies during the brief time same-sex marriage was legal in California, said in a statement that he feels Obama "moved us closer to fulfilling the promise of equality and fairness upon which our nation was founded."
On KPCC's Patt Morrison Show, experts and audience alike were divided about what the statement might mean for Obama's re-election prospects. And in L.A.'s predominantly African American Leimert Park, there was delight as well as some disappointment in the President.
Reporters Jose Martinez and Corey Moore gauged the response from passersby on the streets of South Los Angeles:
"It’s not what I think, it's what the Bible says about it. God’s word is against gay marriages."
"I do feel like he’s been doing what he’s supposed to do. But as far as gay marriage? I don’t agree with that."
"Black and Hispanic voters are both very traditional, and so they’ll stick to their religious points."
"A great majority of the voters are gay. Men and women. And I find myself lately surrounded by a lot of them, even in church. And they’re very nice people."
"They pay taxes, they can fight in the war... they can get married. Better them than me."
"It's about time that these issues are addressed. Him being supportive might lead other states to approve same sex marriage."
"He's a political animal. I'm surprised that he made [the announcement] at all."
"Everybody should have the chance to marry. I'm okay with it."
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