By MICHAEL ZENNIE
President Barack Obama voiced support for gay marriage in an interview with ABC News today, the third time he has changed his stance on the issue in his political career.
Obama's announcement is a political calculation for his reelection campaign, an attempt to draw a sharp line between himself and Republican Mitt Romney, who opposes gay marriage.
The president appears to be banking on the issue, which is heavily supported by younger Americans, to mobilize the youth vote, which has become disaffected during his term in office.
Obama had long been suspected of holding this view, but was thought to be afraid to make it public because of the political backlash.
The revelation comes the day after voters in the key battleground state of North Carolina approved a strict new ban on same-sex marriage. The measure, which prohibits any civil or domestic benefits for gay couples, passed by a landslide with 61 percent of the vote.
Change of heart: President Barack Obama said he once thought civil unions were sufficient rights for gay couples, but he no longer believes that
Historic: President Barack Obama is the first sitting US President to publicly support gay marriage. President George W Bush opposed it and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act into law
'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,' the president said.
Obama claims the change is a personal one only, and that he he still believes the issue of gay marriage should be left up to the states.