May 15, 2012 in Nation/World

Obama defends view on marriage

President speaks to gay supporters at fundraiser
Julie Pace Associated Press

to voter core

Women, young people and gay voters all made up crucial voting blocs for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. His campaign is focused on rallying support among those groups once again.

NEW YORK – President Barack Obama on Monday defended his view that gay couples should have the right to marry, saying that the country has never gone wrong when it “expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody.”

“That doesn’t weaken families. That strengthens families,” he told gay and lesbian supporters and others at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The remarks were his first to such an audience since he announced his personal support for same-sex marriage last week. They came on a day that Obama was making a targeted appeal to three core voting blocs: women, young people, and gays and lesbians. He gave a commencement address at Barnard College, a women’s college, and taped an interview on “The View,” a popular daytime talk show aimed at women, which was to air today.

“At root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect, and everybody deserves a shot,” he told about 200 supporters at the fundraising event.

Obama also called for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Romney has said he believes marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. Although Obama did not mention Romney’s stance, he cast his challenger as a “rubber stamp” for congressional Republicans and cited his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, as a far more independent Republican who believed in climate change and in the need for overhauling the immigration system.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that about half of those surveyed say Obama’s support for same-sex marriage does not affect their opinion of the president, with about one-fourth saying they feel less favorably toward him and 19 percent feeling more favorably.

There was a big disparity between adults surveyed, indicating a more intensely negative reaction among older Americans.

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