PORTLAND, Ore. - President Barack Obama made history on Tuesday when he became the first president to endorse gay marriage.
"It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married," the president said.
Gay rights groups cheered over the news - they have long urged President Obama to support same-sex marriage.
However, polling suggests the nation is evenly divided on the issue and this will open up a new divide between the president and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who opposes gay marriage.
Watch KATU News at 5 and 6 p.m. to see the latest local reaction to Obama's endorsement
Obama spoke about his support for gay marriage in deeply personal terms, saying his young daughters, Malia and Sasha, have friends whose parents are same-sex couples.
"Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated different," Obama said. "It doesn't make sense to them and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective."
Obama said first lady Michelle Obama also was involved in his decision and joins him in supporting gay marriage.
"In the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people," he said.
THE LOCAL IMPACT
Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, is calling the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage a rallying point.
"I think for our community this is a big deal," she said. "This is an incredible moment."
But the group has no set plans to try to overturn Oregon's state constitution, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. They are considering a statewide campaign for 2014.
The president's position may have a greater impact in Washington state where voters could be asked to weigh in on the state's recently passed same-sex marriage law, which is set to start next month.
Teresa Harke with the Oregon Family Council said Obama's announcement didn't surprise gay marriage opponents.
"Supporters of ours probably already assumed because of some of his policies, like not defending DOMA, that he was not a strong candidate for them," she said. "But it definitely clears things up - kind of makes it rock solid."
Here's what local politicians had to say in written statements that were released to the media on Tuesday:
- Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. - "I applaud President Obama for voicing his support for marriage equality. This is an issue of fundamental fairness for the men and women who seek to create a family with the person they love. I look forward to working with our President to make this vision of full equality a reality."
- Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore. - "I applaud President Obama for his announcement today supporting gay marriage. Marriage equality is a fundamental civil rights issue, and it is more important than ever that we stand united. This is an historic day for the LGBTQ community and our nation as a whole. Well done, Mr. President!"
ON SOCIAL MEDIA
When we posted the news on our KATU Facebook page, folks quickly chimed in. Here are a few of the comments from our fans:
- Genie Goodman - I say, Good for him!
- Robert Matheny - He's got to do something to get reelected
- Jewel Cowart - THAT is freedom.. to vote as I want :-)
- Amber Davis - I wonder what changed his mind? He was against it not long ago.
- Ann Kennedy Schrepfer - Yep it's election year
And of course the news didn't just blow up here in the Northwest. Here's a look at some of what people from around the United States and beyond were saying: