2012-05-08 - Barack Obama
Well-- you know, I have to tell you, as I've said, I've-- I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that-- gay and lesbian-- Americans should be treated fairly and equally. And that's why in addition to everything we've done in this administration, rolling back Don't Ask, Don't Tell-- so that-- you know, outstanding Americans can serve our country. Whether it's no longer defending the Defense Against Marriage Act, which-- tried to federalize-- what is historically been state law.
I've stood on the side of broader equality for-- the L.G.B.T. community. And 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, you know, the-- the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth.
But I have to tell you that over the course of-- several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about-- members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, in 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're 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. Now-- I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue. There's a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized.
And what you're seeing is, I think, states working through this issue-- in fits and starts, all across the country. Different communities are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that's a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage.