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Local Supporters Of Marriage Equality Praise Obama's New Position

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The day after President Barack Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage, senior administration officials say the president made the decision to support same-sex marriage earlier this year, and had planned to make his views known before the Democratic National Convention.

In a hastily scheduled Wednesday interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News, Obama became the first U.S. president to support gay marriage.

He said it wasn't just a political decision for him, as his opinion evolved over several years of talking with friends and family.

"At a certain point, I have just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married," said Obama.

Pressure mounted on the president to affirm his support after Vice President Joe Biden endorsed same-sex marriage in a Sunday talk show interview.

Many Republicans are already criticizing the move as politically motivated.

Obama's stance paints a sharp contrast with his Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney, who has long opposed gay marriage and civil unions that he says are "identical to marriage other than by name."

In July 2011, New York became the sixth state to legally marry gay and lesbian couples.

Earlier this week, however, North Carolina became the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only existing between a man and a woman.

Many New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 this morning were pleased that the president express his support for marriage equality, but some wondered how the announcement would play out in the November election.

"It was such a day of extremes. We knew what had got on in North Carolina and that was just a real downer, really depressing. "Then in the afternoon, it just switched over completely to the other end," said Tom Allsup, a gay resident of Greenwich Village who married his partner last year. "To have the president, the chief executive of our country, to come out and have such a positive statement about gay marriage is just something that I had never expected."

"I'm concerned that it might turn off certain people who are liberal in some things and very conservative in others, and that he might impair his chances. So I have kind of a measured response to it," said one Manhattanite.

"I'm pro-equal rights, and that includes marriage. I just hope it doesn't end up biting him in the butt come election time," said another.

Other New Yorkers told NY1 that marriage should not deviate from its traditional definition.

"I don't like this idea, period," said a New Yorker. "I believe in traditional marriage and traditional families."

Obama insisted that he has only shifted his personal views on same-sex marriage, and says individual states still need to decide whether same-sex couples can marry.

Local Leaders Sound Off On Obama's Announcement

Two of the biggest proponents of gay marriage in New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Governor Andrew Cuomo, also praised the president's announcement.

"You know it's exciting for me, someone who's getting married a week from Saturday, to see this announcement, and to know that as Kim and I walk to the altar, we're walked there not just by our fathers, not just by the great state of New York, but are also being walked there by the president of the United States," said Quinn.

"I think this is a major advancement for equal rights in this country. I applaud the president's courage. I believe it will be respected by the people of this country. I think it's going to be a great boost for marriage equality," said Cuomo.

In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the announcement is a testament to the president's convictions, saying in part, "This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights.... [N]o matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion."

New York's congressional delegation for the most part also celebrated the president's announcement.

"It's really a civil rights issue, so I'm proud of the president in have the political courage to do the right thing, not withstanding the negative impact it may have," said Congressman Charles Rangel.

"I think the president is exactly where he wants to be, standing up for his principles, standing up for his values. Since he's run his first campaign, he said, 'Our goal is to bend the moral arch of history towards justice,' and this is another step in achieving that vision," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

However, some religious leaders expressed disappointment for the president's support of marriage equality.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, says in part in a statement, "Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

There is also growing concern that the president may be alienating himself from more socially conservative black and Latino voters, a large segment of his base.

However, some believe Obama can still maintain strong support from those groups.

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