Jackie Calmes and Peter Baker at the New York Times:
“At a certain point, 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,” Mr. Obama said.
Long a proponent of civil unions, Mr. Obama said his views had changed in part because of prodding by friends who are gay and by conversations with his wife and daughters.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
Mr. Obama also invoked his Christian faith in explaining his decision.
“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated,” he said. “And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”
Reaction to Mr. Obama’s announcement was largely predictable — including immediate opposition from his presumptive Republican rival, Mitt Romney — yet people on both sides of the issue pointed to the historical significance of a president endorsing marriage between people of the same sex. It was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which the Obama administration last year decided not to enforce in the courts.