President Barack Obama has publicly come out in support of gay marriage, the first time in history that a sitting U.S. President has ever done so.
Obama gave the news to ABC News' Robin Roberts in an interview that will air on ABCs “Good Morning America" on Thursday.
"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,” Obama told Roberts.
The news comes just days after Vice President Joe Biden said he supports gay marriage.
In New Jersey, same-sex marriage advocates are rejoicing.
"I am overwhelmed with tears of joy, as our millions of other LGBT people and our millions of allies across America,” said Garden State Equality's Chair Steven Goldstein: “We will remember for the rest of our lives where we were when we heard the sitting President of the United States say he supports marriage equality. Today’s announcement by the President is of particular importance to those of us fighting in New Jersey and everywhere else marriage equality is up for grabs. No longer will opponents such as Governor Chris Christie be able to take cover by saying, 'Why are you going after me? My opposition to marriage equality is simply the same view as that of our President.' That political cover is now thrown into dustbin of history parked outside the archives of prejudice, collecting its rhetorical trash.
"Short of when America becomes a land of marriage equality, this is the happiest day of our political lives. I'm on Cloud 18."
U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) praised Obama’s statement.
"President Obama's support for marriage equality marks an important moment for civil rights in America. We simply can not treat same sex couples as second-class citizens in our country. Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time and is critical to guaranteeing the equal protection under the law promised to every American in the Constitution. The President's support for marriage equality should inspire Congress, Governors and state legislatures to advance civil rights for all Americans."
Last year, Lautenberg joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others to introduce legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The “Respect for Marriage Act” would repeal DOMA and restore the rights of all lawfully married couples – including tens of thousands of same-sex couples – to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
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