BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – It was a long time coming, but Barack Obama finally allowed his "evolving" views to evolve, becoming the first sitting US president to come out officially in favour of gay marriage.
"At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to affirm same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama said in a May 9 interview with ABC News.
Obama's evolution comes days after his vice-president, Joe Biden, and his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, threw their unequivocal support behind same-sex marriage — and just five months after his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, delivered a 30-minute "gay rights are human rights" call to arms at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. In 2011, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan also went public with his support of gay marriage.
The president's record on gay rights has been strong, with the dismantling of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; passage of hate crime legislation; support for same-sex hospital visitation rights; and a halt to defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, but it seemed to be asterisked because he would go only as far as supporting same-sex civil unions, not full marriage rights.
"I had 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. And, I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth," Obama said Wednesday.