same-sex marriage
A group of same-sex marriage supporters gather for a celebratory toast to President Barack Obama's support of same-sex marriage at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center in San Francisco, California May 9, 2012. Obama said on Wednesday he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. (Reuters/Stephen Lam)

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When Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren asked then-Sen. Barack Obama to define marriage, his answer was clearly in support of the Christian worldview.

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama told Warren. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. You know, God’s in the mix.”

Obama on Wednesday said his views on same-sex marriage have evolved and he openly offered his support for lesbians and gays to enter into that “sacred union” where “God’s in the mix.”

Obama set off a firestorm on Wednesday when he told ABC News, “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Jim Campbell, litigation staff counsel at the Alliance Defense fund, said the about-face shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage.

“Marriage—the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman—is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes,” Campbell said. “The president has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. [His] statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.”

The Family Research Council (FRC) sees Obama’s endorsement of same-sex “marriage” as disappointing but not surprising. That’s because it’s the second time in his career that he has appeared to reverse course on the issue.

In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois State Senate, Obama endorsed same-sex marriage. But since winning national office—first as a U.S. Senator, and then as president—Obama had said that such couples should have access to all the legal rights and benefits of marriage through “civil unions,” but that “marriage” should remain defined as the union of a man and a woman.

FRC president Tony Perkins says Obama’s announcement finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DoMA, to giving taxpayer-funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, he says, the president has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law.

“Considering that 10 of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the president’s new policy position on marriage, [the] announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election,” Perkins said. “

“The president has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama.”

The timing of Obama’s announcement seems ironic to some. It came the day after North Carolina became the 31st state to pass a constitutional amendment affirming natural marriage between one man and one woman.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, says the president has made the issues in this election very clear. For most voters, he argues, this election will now be an easy choice.”

“We are six months away from arguably the most critical national election in our lifetime,” says Staver. “America is headed in the wrong direction: we are on the edge of a moral, financial, spiritual, and national security abyss. President Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan is ‘Forward.’ The Titanic was moving forward but headed to disaster. We need to change course.”

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