Emotions Mixed on Obama's Support for Gay Marriage

Gay-rights activists cheer; religious leaders jeer

North Texas gay rights activists said Wednesday they were happy President Barack Obama came forward to say he personally supports gay marriage, but a Dallas pastor said he is disappointed.

In an interview with ABC at the White House on Wednesday, the president said, "It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Dressed in rainbow shirts and waving rainbow flags, dozens of gay rights activists gathered around the Legacy of Love monument in Dallas less than 24 hours after North Carolina approved an amendment to the state constitution affirming that marriage may only be a union of a man and a woman.

David Pelt said the gathering in Dallas in wake of the North Carolina vote was bittersweet -- with the "sweet" part provided by Obama.

"I think he came to it on his own terms, and in his own time, and I think for him, he felt like
this is when he should do it," said David Pelt, an activist wearing an Obama T-shirt.

But the Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said he doesn't agree with Obama's stance.

"I was disappointed that he would use his Christian faith as a rationale for supporting
same-sex marriage when the Bible clearly defines marriage as relationship between a man and a woman," he said. "The problem I have with this is that it devalues marriage. Whenever you counterfeit something, you devalue the real thing."

Jeffress said Obama's remarks will motivate conservatives at the polls.

Patti Fink, the president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, also said she also thinks the president's words will motivate voters -- liberal voters.

"I don't think it's a Bible issue," she said. "I think it's a civil rights issue."

A Gallup poll released this week found 50 percent of all adults in favor of legal recognition of same-sex marriages, marking the second time that poll has found support for legal gay marriage at 50 percent or higher. Majorities of Democrats (65 percent) and independents (57 percent) supported such recognition, while most Republicans (74 percent) said same-sex marriages should not be legal.

Six states -- all in the Northeast except Iowa -- and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.

Thirty-nine states limit marriage to relationships between a man and a woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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