In a historic and gutsy move, he announced that his personal opinion is that same sex couples should be allowed to get married.
In a sit-down interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, Obama completed what has been a markedly long and oft-mocked evolution on the matter.
"I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally," Obama told Roberts, in an interview that will air in full on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday.
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and 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 or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are 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 same sex couples should be able to get married."
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president said. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
The reaction from the right has been predictable. From Fox News : "OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE!!" says one Twitter post. "GAY ALINKSY ACORN MARRIAGE #FoxNationHeadlines" says another.
Self appointed stand up comics weighed in with, "If only Mitt Romney had a gay surrogate who was experienced in talking to the press who could handle this issue..." and, " More US states allow sex with animals than allow gay marriage!" and our personal favorite, "Rick Santorum just divorced his wife and married his dog. Are you happy, Mr. President?"
From some of his Democratic colleagues from the Northwest :
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.: @repblumenauer Obama support for marriage equality huge step forward for America…. the tide is turning and the current running deeper and faster.
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.: @JayInslee I am proud to stand with President @BarackObama in our support for marriage equality.
The people who are angry about this are people who would not have voted for the President in November anyway. Conversely, he has energized Democrats and Independents and, of course, his base.
We will be watching to see how Mitt Romney reacts.