Obama on gay marriage: 'Right thing to do'

President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address to graduates at all-female Barnard College, on the campus of Columbia University, in New York, Monday, May 14, 2012. Barnard was the first college in New York City where women could receive the same liberal arts education available to men. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address to graduates at all-female Barnard College, on the campus of Columbia University, in New York, Monday, May 14, 2012. Barnard was the first college in New York City where women could receive the same liberal arts education available to men. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK — President Barack Obama on Monday defended his view that gay couples should have the right to marry, saying that the country has never gone wrong when it "expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody."

"That doesn't weaken families. That strengthens families," he told gay and lesbian supporters and others at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council. "It's the right thing to do."

The remarks were his first to such an audience since he announced his personal support for same-sex marriage last week. They came on a day that Obama was making a targeted appeal to three core voting blocs — women, young people, and gays and lesbians. He gave a commencement address to Barnard College, a women's college, and taped an interview on "The View," a popular day-time talk show aimed at women.

Democrats hope Obama's politically risky embrace of gay marriage will re-energize supporters who had been frustrated by his previous assertions that his views on the hot-button social issue were "evolving."

Women, young people and gay voters all made up crucial voting blocs for Obama in the 2008 election. With the president locked in a close race with Republican rival Mitt Romney, his campaign is focused on rallying support among those groups once again.

"At root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect, and everybody deserves a shot," he told about 200 supporters at the fundraising event.

Obama also called for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. His administration has refused to defend the law in court challenges, and while Obama has voiced support for its repeal before, he specifically listed repeal as a goal.

Romney has said he believes that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. Although Obama did not mention Romney's stance, he cast his challenger as a "rubber stamp" for congressional Republicans and cited his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, as a far more independent Republican who believed in climate change and in the need for overhauling the immigration system.

"What we've got this time out is a candidate who's said he would basically rubber stamp the Republican Congress and who wants us to go backwards and not forward," Obama said.

Earlier in the day, during his address at Barnard, Obama urged the graduates to fight for their place at "the head of the table" and help lead a country still battered by economic woes toward brighter days. "I believe that the women of this generation will help lead the way," he said.

The president's choice of Barnard as his first commencement address of the spring underscored the intense focus both candidates have placed on women. An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted earlier this month showed Obama with a sizable advantage over Romney with women voters, 54 percent to 39 percent.

Obama acknowledged that today's college graduates are entering a shaky job market. To those who say overcoming the nation's challenges isn't possible, Obama said, "Don't believe it." He told the graduates that if they ever despair, they should think of the country's history and what young generations before them have achieved.

"Young folks who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall they didn't just do it for themselves, they did it for other people," Obama said. "That's how we achieved women's rights, that's how we achieved voting rights, that's how we achieved workers' rights, that's how we achieved gay rights, that's how we've made this union more perfect."

After the speech, Obama taped an appearance on ABC's "The View," which was to air Tuesday. When asked if he would personally fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, he replied, "Well, look, Congress is clearly on notice that I think it's a bad idea." He also pointed to the $2 billion loss in high-risk trading at JPMorgan Chase to reiterate the need for Wall Street reforms.

Tickets for the fundraiser hosted by Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council started at $5,000 per person.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that about half of those surveyed say Obama's support for same-sex marriage does not affect their opinion of the president, with about one-fourth saying they feel less favorably toward him and 19 percent feeling more favorably.

There was a big disparity between older and younger adults surveyed, indicating a more intensely negative reaction among older Americans. Forty-two percent of people over the age of 65 said they viewed the president less favorably because of his decision, while 62 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said Obama's announcement did not affect their opinion.

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Comments » 21

results writes:

he will get married now.

amyashby writes:

The times. They are a changing!! It looks like Christian extremism is not as popular as you thought:)

ruf462 writes:

in response to SNOWBIRD27:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

To paraphrase, it all depends on what your meaning of "this" is.

profiler writes:

I FIRMLY believe barak obomber should be a two term president: one term in office...another term in prison for his crimes against the citizens.

John_Galt writes:

Where in the US CONSTITUTION does it say that WE The People have granted the Federal Government the power to determine which people may, and which people may not be married? Remember, the Federal Government has ONLY those powers which we have granted to it, and ALL OTHER POWERS are left for the states.

If you want to use the Constitution to justify your position, you must also accept the Constitution when you don't like the reality of it as well. There's a specific process for changing it - ignoring it is not the way it is supposed to be done.

Native writes:

Straight from the pickle smoochers mouth itself. What an idiot. ANYBODY ELSE 2012

Ruger writes:

Meanwhile, labor force participation is at a thirty years low.

Its time to repeal Hype and Blame in November!!

smurfula writes:

I am not an Emperor, Dictator nor feel like I am God-like to be making decisions on same gender sexual legalties in their relationships. I would question the qualifications of any human being who claims to have been endowed with such powers to enforce upon people.

BackwoodsBill writes:

NDN published opinion polls on a regular basis while Obama had a lead over Republican challengers. NDN stopped publishing them when polls showed a tight race. Here's a link to a recent CBS/NYTimes poll.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_16...

Might be a good strategy for the President to continue to talk about Afghanistan, gay rights, anything but the economy. Otherwise the poll numbers might be worse for him.

Sanity writes:

This whole issue is meant to distract from the real issues folks. Democrats can't run a clean campaign or on the issues. They are obsessed with our genitalia. Ignore this garbage and focus on the real issue, the economy!

stella877 writes:

Just another day living in the Estates

RainMan writes:

Right thing to do... If you want to... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ-4gn...

AmericasTrueRecoveryBeginsIn2016 writes:

"It's the right thing to do."

Why?

Because it's an election year and he needs to drum up potential votes wherever he can find them, because he's going to need all he can get come November.

If this weren't an election year, and if he weren't in an election race that is still too close to call at this point, he would still be dithering on the topic and waiting for his opinion to "evolve" more in an effort to put off taking a stand either for or against the issue as long as possible, if at all.

His announcement last week is as pure a politically motivated "decision" as you will ever see.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with what he actually believes. If that were really the case, he would have made this stand a long time ago.

It has everything to do with how desperate he is to get re-elected.

cozyboy writes:

Gay marriage rights and and illegal immigration are always being compared to the civil rights movement. This is a complete joke, just like our fearless leader, "The Forever Evolving Messiah."
Ooh I'm still getting a thrill up my leg.

Sane_in_Florida (Inactive) writes:

in response to John_Galt:

Where in the US CONSTITUTION does it say that WE The People have granted the Federal Government the power to determine which people may, and which people may not be married? Remember, the Federal Government has ONLY those powers which we have granted to it, and ALL OTHER POWERS are left for the states.

If you want to use the Constitution to justify your position, you must also accept the Constitution when you don't like the reality of it as well. There's a specific process for changing it - ignoring it is not the way it is supposed to be done.

Didn't read the article but I'm pretty sure that's been the President's position all along but the Supreme Court, time and time again, has concluded that States do not have the right to violate one's civil rights.

If a church doesn't want to marry a couple of the same sex, so be it, but the government (Federal or State) has no right to interfere. Those who disagree are becoming the minority and irrelevant.

Pragmatic1 writes:

To all my Right Wing Homophobic Friends in Cyberland.

Just to clear up any misconceptions, you are not obligated to marry someone from the same sex.

So, other than the fact that more people will be treated as equals, what business is it of yours who someone else marries?

Sane_in_Florida (Inactive) writes:

in response to AmericasTrueRecoveryBeginsIn2016:

"It's the right thing to do."

Why?

Because it's an election year and he needs to drum up potential votes wherever he can find them, because he's going to need all he can get come November.

If this weren't an election year, and if he weren't in an election race that is still too close to call at this point, he would still be dithering on the topic and waiting for his opinion to "evolve" more in an effort to put off taking a stand either for or against the issue as long as possible, if at all.

His announcement last week is as pure a politically motivated "decision" as you will ever see.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with what he actually believes. If that were really the case, he would have made this stand a long time ago.

It has everything to do with how desperate he is to get re-elected.

It seems that it has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with the fact that Joe Biden forced him into it.

paradise39 writes:

Mr. Obama is just using the Gay people, i would not be so happy if I were them. All he wants is their vote and them toss them to the curve. He never said this when he was running 4 years ago. Mr. Obama should be ashamed of himself for using people like that. He only said it beacuse he is desperate and had nothing else to put out there.

AmericasTrueRecoveryBeginsIn2016 writes:

in response to Sane_in_Florida:

It seems that it has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with the fact that Joe Biden forced him into it.

I wasn't going to go there, but since you did...

I'm sure that little fact has the liberal extremists wringing their hands in frustration and trying to figure out a way to replace Biden on the ticket in Novermber without being obvious about it.

Dan Quaile loves Joe Biden as much as Jimmy Carter loves Obama, for much the same reasons.

AmericasTrueRecoveryBeginsIn2016 writes:

in response to Pragmatic1:

To all my Right Wing Homophobic Friends in Cyberland.

Just to clear up any misconceptions, you are not obligated to marry someone from the same sex.

So, other than the fact that more people will be treated as equals, what business is it of yours who someone else marries?

If, in your opinion, it doesn't matter who someone marries, why are bigamy and polygamy illegal?

What's the difference between having more than one spouse of the opposite sex that makes it illegal and having one spouse of the same sex that should be allowed under the law?

Please, educate us.

seasiderichard writes:

I will not vote for "O" ever again. Anybody but this ....

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