MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Barack Obama made history Wednesday by becoming the first President to support marriage equality for same-sex couples during an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.
“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,” he said.
President Obama says the issue has come up at his own family’s dinner table. He said his daughters, Malia and Sasha, have friends who have same-sex couples for parents.
And it wouldn’t dawn on them that the couples would be treated any differently.
Republican rival Mitt Romney is against gay marriage.
The president’s endorsement comes just months before Minnesotans will vote on an amendment to ban gay marriage in the state.
It’s clear that gay marriage supporters in Minneapolis like what they heard from Obama.
“I am very impressed that he did that,” said Nick Wiebush of Minneapolis. “I am super excited for what that can mean for the gay community.”
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak agreed when he tweeted today, “I’m always proud of our President, but never prouder than today.”
But other Minnesota lawmakers didn’t share that sentiment. Michele Bachmann released a statement saying, “The President’s announcement today shows how out of touch he is with the values of American families.”
Gay marriage may have gotten a vote of support from the president, but just yesterday voters in North Carolina overwhelming approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
The North Carolina vote raises the stakes here in Minnesota — where both sides are expected to spend more than $20 million convincing you how to vote.
At Grace Church in Eden Prairie, 170 pastors gathered for a conference on how to convince Minnesota voters to back the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
Chuck Darrell is with Minnesota for Marriage.
“We expect to work very hard to get the message out that marriage is profoundly in the common good and that it needs to be protected in our state constitution,” Darrell said.
Darrell says the real news of the day is that North Carolina is now the 31st state in a row to reject the rights of gays to wed. Darrell thinks the vote in Minnesota will be much closer but that Minnesota will vote the same way.
“Every time people get to vote they vote to affirm traditional marriage,” Darrell said.
Backers of gay marriage say the President’s hesitancy until now to openly support gay marriage has cost him. Professor Dale Carpenter is a University of Minnesota law professor and a board member of Minnesotans United for All Families.
“There was certainly some disappointment among some of the Presidents. Donors and other supporters who want him to say what everyone already knows that he supports same-sex marriage for committed same sex couples,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter says the North Carolina vote will put more of a spotlight on Minnesota to break the string of 31 states rejecting gay marriage.
“We are going to be pushing the message for the next six months that Minnesotans should not follow the message of North Carolina and limit the freedom to marry for anyone,” Carpenter said.
A Gallup poll released Tuesday found that Americans are split on this issue with 50 percent of Americans in support of gay marriage and 48 percent against it.
But, overall, if you look at polls over the past five to 10 years the percentage of people supporting gay marriage has been steadily climbing.