(New York) President Barack Obama praised New York state lawmakers who were debating landmark legislation Thursday to legalize gay marriage, saying that’s what democracy’s all about. But the president stopped short of embracing same-sex marriage himself.“I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” the president said at a fundraiser in Manhattan, his first geared specifically to the gay community. Coincidentally, the long-planned event occurred just as lawmakers in Albany were debating legislation that would make New York the sixth state to legalize gay marriage.
That served to spotlight the president’s own views on same-sex marriage, a sore point with gay supporters who’ve otherwise warmed to him. The president has said his views are “evolving,” but for now he supports civil unions, not same-sex marriage.
“Traditionally marriage has been decided by the states and right now I understand there’s a little debate going on here in New York,” the president said to laughter. He said New York’s lawmakers are “doing exactly what democracies are supposed to do.”
Debate on the measure continued into the night at the statehouse, and the outcome was uncertain.
As Obama spoke a handful of people shouted out “marriage!” And Obama said, “I heard you guys.”