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Why Obama endorsed gay marriage now (+video)

Comments on Sunday by Vice President Biden backing gay marriage and a North Carolina vote on Tuesday opposing it pushed President Obama to clarify his own stand on gay marriage well before the Democratic National Convention.

Barack Obama is the first US president to publicly back gay marriage. Peter Grier decodes the politics behind the high-risk move.
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President Obama says he had already decided to endorse gay marriage sometime before the Democratic National Convention in September, but Vice President Joe Biden forced the issue last Sunday when he spoke out in favor of marriage equality.

“He probably got out a little over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that aired Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way on my own terms without, I think, there being a lot of notice to everybody? Of course. But all’s well that ends well.”

Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage on Wednesday, when the ABC interview took place, capped a series of events that appeared to corner the president on a hot-button social issue. On Sunday, Mr. Biden stated, in response to a question, that he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage – though making clear that he was speaking for himself and not the president. On Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is close to Obama, also said for the first time publicly that he supports gay marriage.

Then on Tuesday, voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions, demonstrating the schism in the country that is evident in opinion polls.

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