The evolution is complete. President Barack Obama has endorsed gay marriage.
May 9, 2012 is a momentous day in the struggle for civil rights in this nation. America: It just got better.
"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 told Robbin Robberts in an interview that will air tonight on ABC News.
This is a bold and electorally risky step for Obama. North Carolina — a state Obama turned (barely) blue in 2008 and where he's holding his convention this year in hopes of a repeat performance — voted just last night not only to ban gay marriage but to outlaw civil unions as well.
Nationally, the poll numbers on gay marriage have been shifting, but marriage equality is basically a 50/50 proposition, at best.
It's vital to note that the president didn't call for gay marriage to be legalized nationally. He reportedly believes that states ought to be able to hash this out for themselves.
This is a personal declaration. But hell yes it matters. The shift will allow the president to campaign forthrightly on his values, and those dear to the Democratic base, instead of awkwardly half-defending the indefensible, as the White House has been scrambling to do ever since Vice President Joe Biden dropped the bomb that he is "comfortable" with gay marriage on a talk show last Sunday.
Obama spoke of the influence of his wife, his faith, and the generational shift embodied by his daughters.
This is the kind of move that will force America to wake up and talk about the values at stake in this debate. And Obama's declaration is already leading others to speak out with surprising frankness. Within minutes of this news breaking, Fox News anchor Shep Smith asked if the Republican Party will campaign against marriage equality "while sitting very firmly, without much question, on the wrong side of history on it."
From Mitt Romney, that answer is yes: “My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. That’s the position I’ve had for some time, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments at this point," Romney said. "Or ever, by the way.”