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MD Same-Sex Marriage Proponents Cheer Obama Announcement

In an interview on ABC News, the president says he supports same-sex marriage. The issue is likely to go to referendum in Maryland this fall.

President Barack Obama picked the day after a decisive vote in North Carolina to announce that his "evolution" on the issue of same-sex marriage was complete—he now supports it.

In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Obama said:

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.

Maryland is one of as many as four states that could put the issue in front of voters this fall, ABC News reports, but it's unclear how much impact the president's endorsement will have.

The Maryland General Assembly in February. The bill does not take effect until Jan. 1, which gave opponents time to gather petitions required to send the bill to referendum in November's general election.

ABC broadcasted a special report with clips from the interview just before 3 p.m. Wednesday. The full interview with Obama is scheduled to air on "Good Morning America" on May 10.

North Carolinians voted overwhelmingly to amend that state's constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages and civil unions on Tuesday.

Amy Becker, an assistant professor of communication at , said most observers expected Obama to make this announcement after the November election.

But his hand may have been forced, she said, by Vice President Joe Biden, who on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday described himself as "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage. On Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan also came out in favor of same-sex marriage.

The president's stance is now front and center in an election year. In contrast, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama's presumptive Republican challenger, publicly opposes same-sex marriage.

"The Republicans are going to pick up and run with this and a lot of people in  the news media are going to speculate about what this means for the presidential race," Becker said. "While a lot of people argue it's the right move, it might not be the safest move, politically."

Within minutes of the ABC News report, Gov. Martin O'Malley issued a statement saying that Obama "affirmed that for a people of many different faiths—a people who are committed to the principle of religious freedom—the way forward is always to be found through greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all."

In a separate statement, Josh Levin, director of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said his group was "delighted" with the momentum today's news would bring to his campaign.

“His announcement is especially important to our coalition and to the thousands of couples and families in Maryland who are working to ensure the Civil Marriage Protection Act is upheld this November," he said.

Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group leading the effort to petition the law to referendum, did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. However, The Washington Post reported last week that the group had received more than 30,000 signatures on a petition to send the law to referendum.

Counting Tuesday's vote in North Carolina, voters in 32 states have voted against same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states and Washington, D.C.

However, statistics show the tide appears to be turning, locally and nationally. A Pew Research Center study found that 43 percent of Americans now support allowing same-sex couples to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009. A Washington Post poll conducted earlier this year found that 50 percent of Marylanders support same-sex marriage, while 44 percent oppose it.

Becker said analysts should be "cautious" in predicting the impact of the president's announcement, but that turnout among youth and church-going African-Americans will be key for both sides. According to the Pew study, 63 percent of people born in 1981 or later support same-sex marriage. But support slips to just 33 percent among black protestants and 14 percent among white evangelicals.

"I do think it's going to be really close, and there are a lot of folks in Maryland that are not in favor of this," Becker said.

William Hellmann July 24, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Micheal is right. Nobody follows this logic however for two reasons, stupidity or vindictiveness. But I am glad someone has the right idea.
Mark Patro July 24, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Mr Hellman, We live in a free country and you may vote for whomever you like. But there is no candidate, among those available, with a better record on LGBT issues. We can have a long drawn out conversation on this. But in my opinion, all of the opposition is doing is vocalizing all of their phobias and hateful points of view. You will be on the wrong side of history.
William Hellmann July 24, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I am sure, after all we are talking about the same Barak Obama who voted against a gay marriage bill when serving as a city councilman in Detroit. YOU sir are on the wrong side of history Mr. Patro, the side characterized by ignorance that masks itself as intelligence. Barak Obama is just trying to use LGBT issues as a crutch to keep his campaign afloat. All he wants are your votes, he will do nothing for you in the end though. I am sad that you are too ignorant to see that and that you have given up your freedom to think for yourself, or for that matter even think.
Katterfelto March 13, 2013 at 03:43 AM
The divorce rate has been steadily rising since the 1970s, and today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. I cannot fathom why anyone, gay or straight, would be inclined to embrace such a decrepit institution, however one thing's for sure: with religious crackpots having effectively blocked gay marriage for decades, they can hardly blame the institution's destruction on gay people. If anything, the increase in the number of gay marriages over the next few years will likely drive the divorce rate *down*. That's the irony of it, that gay people are the ones who will ultimately "save" marriage, though why they would bother is beyond understanding.
Tim March 13, 2013 at 03:52 AM
I don't know about saving the institution...but completely agree about the religious crackpots portion of it, they've done a great job of both devaluing marriage while oppressing others at the same time.


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