In the initial ABC excerpts, the president called his new view a personal position, stating that he still believes each state needs to make its own decision. But he said he believes Americans will become more comfortable with the notion of same-sex marriages over time, citing his own daughters’ comfort. “Some of this,” he said, “is also generational…. When I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation that they believe in equality…. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples…. It wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Polls support the president’s argument that younger voters are comfortable with a notion that would have seemed unthinkable only a decade ago. But the polls also demonstrate that there is risk in his new position, because another key part of Obama’s coalition is decidedly opposed to redefining marriage. African-Americans, often led by black church ministers, have been on the side of traditional marriage every time a state has held a referendum.
He told ABC's Roberts he had discussed the issue with first lady Michelle Obama. “She feels the same way that I do,” Obama said. “… We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president.”
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Obama first referred to his position as "evolving" in December 2010 when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper, “My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.”
Now that the struggle has ended, the White House and the president’s political team in Chicago are braced for the political fallout, cautiously confident that it will not alter the fundamental political dynamic for the showdown with Romney. The praise from Democrats and liberals was quick. “Isn’t it great?” asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, hailed what he called “a historic day,” adding, “The president's support for marriage equality is great news that's likely to energize progressive activists across the country.”
Sarah Huisenga contributed.