The day after North Carolinians voted overwhelmingly to amended their state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, the president said that he disagrees.
In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News, Obama said, "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."
The president's hand was forced when Vice President Joe Biden voiced his personal support for gay rights Sunday. Biden shined light on the White House's position on same-sex marriage - a position that had become a source of exasperation for gay rights groups who supported the president during his run for office in 2008.
President Obama had said previously that he supported civil unions in general but his "evolving" position on same-sex marriage.
That position reflected the conflicted opinions of a valuable group of voters - one that includes young people, Democrats and political independents, and minorities.
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A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, showed that Americans are sharply divided over whether the changes the American family - including the growing acceptance of same-sex couples - has undergone in the past half-century are good for America.
Americans are generally divided into thirds, those who accept major social changes, those who reject it, and those who are tolerant but skeptical of it, the study showed.
Those tolerant skeptics were most conflicted of the three groups when asked what impact more same-sex couples raising children had on American society. A little more than half said that same-sex couples raising children made no difference to society, 14 percent said it was good, and less than 30 percent thought it was bad for society.
Those in the other two groups were much less conflicted.
More than 80 percent of people who were likely to accept social change thought that more gay and lesbian couples raising children is either good for American society or made no difference.
Of those who reject change, the vast majority (at nearly 90 percent of those surveyed) said that gay and lesbian couples raising children is bad for society.
Women, Hispanics, East Coast residents, and adults who seldom or never attend religious services are more likely than others to be accepting of social change.
Whites, older adults, Republicans, the religiously observant and married adults are overrepresented in the group that reject social changes.
The number of same-sex households is growing rapidly, nearly doubling in the decade after the millenium, according to Census numbers. But despite an increase of more than 80 percent, same-sex households made up less than 1 percent of all households in 2010.
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