President Obama reaffirmed his support for same-sex marriage and sought to distinguish his position from Mitt Romney's during a Tuesday appearance on The View.
When it comes to the rights recognized by the state I think it's important to make sure everyone's treated fairly and everyone's treated equally, Obama said.
Marriage law is largely the province of the states, but Obama emphasized having directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks the federal governement from recognizing same-sex marriages. He dodged a question about more aggressively prodding Congress to repeal the law.
Congress is clearly on notice that I think [the Defense of Marriage Act] is a bad idea, Obama said, adding that the law is unconstitutional.
In contrast, Obama noted, Romney has stood firm in his opposition to same-sex marriage. The presumptive Republican nominee has gone a step further, saying the Defense of Marriage Act's principles should be enshrined in a constitutional amendment saying the sole legitimate form of marriage is between a man and a woman.
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Asked about the potential electoral implications of his decision, Obama was careful to say he was not trodding on other peoples' beliefs and predicted that concerns about the economy would outweigh social issues.
I'm very respectful of peoples differences on this issue, there's people who are sincere in their faith and belief, Obama said, adding that in the same way you don't want me saying something I don't believe in I don't expect you to say something you don't believe in.
The president brushed off suggestions that he was irked by Vice President Joe Biden forcing the issue, attributing remarks in which Biden enthusiastically backed same-sex marriage to the gregarious vice president's generosity of spirit.
We talked about it, and what I said was I was never going to blame anyone for saying what they believe, Obama said.
Ultimately, the president said, he had arrived at his belief in the justness of same-sex marriage not by mulling the policy implications but by regularly interacting with members of same-sex couples who convinced him that civil unions were not sufficient.
Part of it was knowing friends and family, people I've gotten to know who have these meaningful relationships, Obama said. You know what? The words matter.