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President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that his “evolution” on same-sex marriage is complete. He favors allowing gay couples to marry.

Obama’s announcement comes the day after North Carolina voters passed an amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Obama had already decided that his administration would not defend a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law — a position that had seemed to be in contradiction to his previous opposition to same-sex marriage.

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President Obama mentioned, in particular, gay members of his staff and the military as being influential in his decision. In clarifying his point this is what he said:

“As I talked to friends, family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about those soldiers, or airmen, or marines, sailors who are fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they’re not able to commit themselves in a marriage, 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 that same-sex couples should be able to get married.

In the end, the values that I care most deeply about, and she (Michelle Obama) cares most deeply about is how we treat other people. We’re both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but when we think about our faith the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf but it’s also the golden rule – treat others the way you’d want to be treated.”

President Obama had come under increasing pressure to take a more definitive stance on the issue after Vice President Joe Biden seemed to announce that he favored gay marriage in a Sunday interview before White House staffers backtracked on Biden’s remarks. Biden’s interview was followed Monday morning by Education Secretary Arne Duncan announcing that he supported same-sex marriage.

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During the 2008 campaign, the president said he supported civil unions for gay couples but believed marriage is only for a man and a woman. In 2010, he admitted that he struggled with the issue and that his views were “constantly evolving.” In Wednesday’s interview, he said he came to his new position over the course of several year.

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