Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – In a historical proclamation during an interview, President Barack Obama said unequivocally that he now supports same-sex marriage in the United States.
Representative Alcee Hastings was the first to give a statement saying, “I commend President Obama on his decision to formally support same-sex marriage. It is high time that gay and lesbian Americans are afforded the same rights, benefits, and protections of marriage as heterosexual couples. “
President Obama said the states should be making the final call on gay marriage. So far, 38 states have banned same-sex marriage, including Florida.
President Obama said in an excerpt from the interview that he’s concluded that it is important for him to affirm that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to get married. Obama said he came to the decision over several years of talking to family and friends.
“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,” Mr. Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts.
The move by Obama comes less than a week after Vice-President Joe Biden first said he had no problems with same-sex marriage. The White House spent much of Monday and Tuesday being turned into a pretzel trying to square Obama’s previous position and Biden’s statement.
Obama’s Republican challenger reiterated Wednesday that he does not support same-sex marriage, a view shared by the Republican National Committee.
“While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote in a statement.
Mikey Verdugo and Luis Weber of Fort Lauderdale just became domestic partners. They hope to someday get married.
“We’re no different than anybody else. We love each other, we want to be with each other, we want to share the same rights as anybody else,” said Weber.
“I definitely believe we’re one step closer,” said Verdugo.
On South Beach Wednesday afternoon, reaction was mixed.
I think it’s a great deal, very big, for the mere fact that we finally have a President that’s going to stand up for what they say,” said Ivan Cano.
Cano is gay. He came out at age 19 and says this is a day 25 years in the making for him.
“It’s time that our community, the LGBT community make sure that we back him up on it,” Cano said. “After all, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
CBS 4 News caught up with Cano at the Lords Hotel. On it’s website, the hotel boasts being the “hottest gay resort in Miami”. But one woman we spoke to there was not pleased with the President’s position.
“I don’t think it’s okay,” said Elva Curial. “I believe in the Lord and Jesus. And the main purpose of a man and woman was to be married.”
But others we spoke to at the hotel on Collins Ave. were more accepting.
“I think that it’s good,” said Aurelie Beyutier. “My opinion about it is that not that because you are gay you can’t get married. Just, you need love.”
Some were skeptical about the weight the President’s words will actually carry.
“I don’t think he can do it for the whole United States,” said Julien Robineau.
Robineau is visiting Miami from France with his boyfriend.
They hope Mr. Obama’s position on same sex marriage inspires his new French counterpart, Francoise Hollande.
“It’s a good thing,” said Robineau. “Maybe he can do it in France.”
In Miami Beach, same sex marriage advocates say the city has been very supportive of the LGBT community. They worry, however, they will face an uphill battle to get Tallahassee lawmakers to take the same stance as the President.