Obama Stands by Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage - but Feelings "Evolving"

Darlene Garner, left, has a joyful tear wiped from her face by her partner, Candy Holmes, of Washington, after the couple obtained their marriage license Wednesday, March 3, 2010, the first day possible for gay couples since the District of Columbia legalized gay marriage in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Asked at a press conference Wednesday about his opposition to same-sex marriage in the wake of repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, President Obama stood by his position - but also suggested he was open to changing his mind in the near future.

"My feelings about this are constantly evolving," he said. "I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people. And this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about."

He continued: "At this point, what I've said is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have, and I think that's the right thing to do. But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think this is something that we're going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward."

Mr. Obama added that "this is going to be an issue that is not unique to the military, this is an issue that extends to all of our society and I think we're all going to have to have a conversation about it."

The president took a similar position in October, when he said "attitudes evolve, including mine."

"The one thing I will say today is I think it's pretty clear where the trendlines are going," he said.

Upon signing the bill to end the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military Wednesday morning, Mr. Obama cast the moment as a move toward equality for all Americans, stating, "We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal."

He said during an  interview with The Advocate Tuesday night that he believed the next legislative steps on gay rights are the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman on a federal level, while ENDA would make it illegal for employers to make decisions about hiring, firing, promoting and/or paying someone based on his or her sexual orientation.

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