Obama backs same-sex marriage


After years of "evolving" on the issue, US president Barack Obama said last night he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, a stance that is likely to please his political base and complicate efforts to attract some independent voters.

"It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Mr Obama said in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.

Mr Obama's comments marked the first time a US president had publicly expressed support for gay marriage, and his position was hailed by Democrats, gay rights groups and others as a benchmark for civil rights in the United States.

"This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights" said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent whose city is in one of six states that allow same-sex marriage.

Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress described the president's expression of support as "another large step toward realising this country's promise of equality".

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