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Wednesday, April 17
The Indiana Daily Student

President Obama declares support for same-sex marriage

President Barack Obama  declared his support for same-sex marriage Wednesday, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this decision.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I have talked 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 are 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,” Obama said.

Obama had previously stayed away from endorsing same-sex marriages, often citing his faith as a roadblock. In October, Obama  maintained he would not be making any public announcement on the issue, even telling ABC News, “I probably won’t make news right now.”

Recent events including a gay marriage ban being approved in North Carolina and Vice President Joe Biden publicly announcing his support of same-sex marriages might have influenced Obama’s decision to make the announcement. 

“He had to do something because everyone could tell that this was something he had come around to supporting, but it’s politically risky, very politically risky, for him to say so,” IU Professor of political science Christine Barbour said in an email. “He was going to face a mutiny among Democrats if he did not come out in favor of it, but it will likely cost him support with independent voters in some important swing states.”

Junior Catherine Wells, president of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality at IU, said she also thinks Obama’s comment could jeopardize his candidacy.

“I believe that President Obama’s display of support for same-sex marriage is timely in light of recent rulings and political statements concerning LGBT rights, although it does pose risk to his campaign for reelection,” she said. “However, I’m hopeful that this show of support presages a future environment that is more favorable to LGBT equality.”

Same-sex unions are currently illegal and banned by statute in Indiana. Since 2004, there has been an initiative to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage every year, according to the Indiana State Senate website.

In the interview, Obama said his support of same-sex marriage does not change his stance on states having control of the issue.

Obama said conversations with staff, openly gay and lesbian service members, and his wife and daughters influenced his decision.

Doug Bauder, coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services office at IU, said he was happy to read that Obama’s family had an effect on his decision.

“It helps prove something that I have always believed,” Bauder said. “That good children can raise great parents.”

He also said the evolution of Obama’s feelings toward same-sex marriage reminds him of how thoughtful the president can be.

“He understands that the political is personal and vice versa,” Bauder said. “I am delighted.”

Barbour said she thinks this was a bold statement and bold timing on Obama’s part.

“A majority of Americans support marriage equality these days but not a majority of voters,” Barbour said. “I think it was a pretty courageous thing to do for a president who is not ahead in the polls right now.”

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