Obama: Greater Equality for Gays a ‘Good Thing’

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says he thinks it is a “good thing” that the United States is moving in the direction of greater equality for homosexuals.

At a news conference at the White House Wednesday, President Obama praised the legalization of gay marriage in the state of New York, but stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage himself. He said what happened in New York was a “good thing,” because people talked through the issues and came to a decision.

After days of contentious debate among lawmakers, New York became the sixth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage last Friday.

Mr. Obama said the country is seeing a “profound recognition” on the part of the American people that gays, lesbians and transgender people should be treated like every other American, and said he thinks that principle will “win out.”

He said the process will not be “perfectly smooth,” but that his administration has consistently said the country cannot discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

The president pointed out steps his administration has taken on the issue, including ending the policy preventing homosexuals from serving openly in the military and declaring the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, unconstitutional.

The president has upset gay rights activists for his support of civil unions over marriage, but recently said his views on the matter are evolving.

He refused to change his position Wednesday, saying he “is not going to make news on that today.”

Mr. Obama told gay rights supporters in New York last week that same-sex couples deserve the same legal rights “as every other couple in this country,” but he did not fully endorse same-sex marriage.

New York has joined Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and Washington, DC in allowing gay couples to marry.