As I said, I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. And that’s why, in addition to everything we’ve done in this administration — rolling back Don’t Ask Don’t Tell so that outstanding Americans can serve our country; whether it’s no longer defending the Defense (of) Marriage Act, which tried to federalize what has historically state law — I’ve stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community.

And I’d hesitated on gay marriage because, in part, I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that, for a lot of people, the word ‘marriage’ is something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth.

But I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I 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, 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’re 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 same-sex couples should be able to get married.

President BARACK OBAMA. (via inothernews)