Obama Cites ‘Real Differences’ with Romney on Same-Sex Marriage

By Fred Lucas | May 15, 2012 | 3:03 PM EDT

President Barack Obama appears on the ABC's television show "The View" in New York, Monday, May 14, 2012. From left are, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, the president, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said he and Republican opponent Mitt Romney contrast sharply on the issue of homosexual marriage, as Obama is positioning himself on the side of states’ rights for this issue.

“This is going to be a big contrast in the campaign because we’ve got Gov. Romney saying that we should actually have a constitutional amendment installing the notion that you can’t have same-sex marriages,” Obama said in an interview on the ABC daytime TV program, “The View.”

One of the show’s co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the only Republican on the panel, asked Obama what is the difference between the two candidates. The president said that Romney would federalize the issue.

“Mitt Romney said he wants a constitutional amendment. That’s not a state issue,” Obama said. “That federalizes the whole issue, and that’s a major difference. He would defend the Defense Against (sic) Marriage Act. That’s a federal issue that says even in the state of New York that has made a determination that we recognize same-sex couples and same-sex marriage, that will not be recognized at the federal level. So there are real differences here.”

The Obama administration decided not to defend the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, a law that does two things. One, it recognizes only traditional marriage at the federal level. Second, the law states that one state cannot be required to recognize a gay marriage from another state.

Thus, a repeal of DOMA could essentially federalize the issue. It would mean that the 32 states that voted by referendum to recognize only traditional marriage would have to recognize the same-sex marriages from six states enacted either through court order or an act of the state legislature.

“Ultimately, I just have to say this is not an issue – as important as it is – that is going to determine the election,” Obama said. “What’s going to determine the election is the economy.”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said last October in New Hampshire that he supported legally recognized “partnership agreements” for homosexual couples, but opposed gay marriage.

Romney’s campaign website says, “As president, Mitt will not only appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton – but he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”

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Earlier in the program taped Monday and aired Tuesday, co-host Joy Behar asked Obama, “Do you think it’s going to hurt you in November?”

Obama answered that some people who believe that the family is the foundation of society would disagree with him.

“I think it’s very hard to say,” the president said. “There’s no doubt that for some folks who have some sincere, very legitimate beliefs about traditional marriage and who do so because they appreciate that family is the foundation of this country and healthy communities, I think some will say, I like Barack but I just strongly disagree with him on this.

“I’ve got friends. I’ve got pastors who have been great supporters, great friends, who I’ve spoken to who said, look, we love you, but we just disagree with you on this thing,” Obama continued. “And I’ve said to them, in the same way you wouldn’t want me saying something I don’t believe in, I don’t expect you to say something you don’t believe in.”

Recent polls show that same-sex marriage will not be a deciding factor in the presidential election, but that a sizable chunk of voters are less likely to support Obama because of his support for gay marriage.

A New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday found 25 percent of respondents are less likely to vote for Obama because of his stance on same-sex marriage, while fewer than 16 percent are more likely to vote for him because of the stance and 23 percent are more likely to vote for Romney.

Among independents, 20 percent are more likely to vote for Romney, while 14 percent are more likely to vote for Obama, now that he’s confirmed what many already suspected.

A Gallup poll last week found that although six in 10 said the issue would not affect their vote, 26 percent would be less likely to vote for Obama because of the matter. Just 13 percent said they would be more likely to vote for Obama.

In August 2011, Romney signed a pledge by the National Organization for Marriage stating that if he is elected president, he will “support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification,” as well as “defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court.”

When asked about that pledge during an editorial meeting with the Des Moines Register on Nov. 9, Romney was asked, “You signed a pledge opposing same-sex marriage. What’s the basis of your opposition to it, and what would you do about it as president?”

Romney said, “The basis of opposition is my view that the ideal setting for raising a child is where there’s a male and a female involved. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and support that concept. The action that I take as president depends in part on the state of play in Washington, the people that are there, and what options that exist.

“But certainly I would defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which the current president has refused to defend. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act was well constructed and should be maintained. I would like to see a national amendment defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, but that was tried maybe three or four years ago. I don’t think that’s likely to receive the necessary support at least in the near-term.”

As for children, Romney believes it is okay for homosexuals to adopt and rear children. Romney does not think this is the ideal situation for the child, but he would not oppose it, according to his statements on the issue, but leave it up to states to decide how to handle the topic.

Romney has also stated that, if elected president, he would not seek to reinstate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy concerning homosexuals serving in the military, which was repealed by Obama.

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