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Obama: Same-sex marriage constitutional, but an issue for the states

Not everyone has to agree, "from a religious standpoint," that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, President Obama told Telemundo in an interview taped Wednesday. But as the Supreme Court considers two cases on the hot-button issue, he added, recognizing same-sex couples is "not only is it right and fair, but also consistent with our Constitution."

The president came out in support of gay marriage last May, qualifying that law relating to the issue should be determined at the state level. Mr. Obama stood by that sentiment Wednesday, talking to what the court might do as it examines the constitutionality of California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

"It is very important for us to remember we're a nation in which everybody's supposed to be equal before the law," the president said. "I've known a lot of same-sex couples who are committed, who are raising kids. For them to be treated differently - I think is not fair. And I think an increasing number of Americans agree with that.


"So I think it is time for the justices to examine this issue," he continued. "And I certainly believe that those states that have made a decision to recognize these couples as being married, that the federal government has to respect that decision by the states. That's traditionally been how it works."

A CBS News poll out this week showed 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should legally recognize existing same-sex marriages and provide them the same benefits the government provides to heterosexual married couples; only 35 percent do not believe the government should issue such a mandate.

Speaking with Telemundo, Mr. Obama also touched on immigration, another issue that's likely to help define his second-term agenda. If the House and Senate is able to muster a bipartisan bill for comprehensive immigration reform next month, "as these senators indicate it will be," the president said, "then I'm confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer."