Includes reporting from Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joseph Spector
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he now supports same-sex marriage, ending months of equivocation on a subject with powerful election-year consequences.
Obama says he has concluded that it is important for him to affirm that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to get married. He says he came to the conclusion over the course of several years of talking to family and friends.
Obama has previously said his personal views of gay marriage were evolving, a stance that frustrated gay rights supporters.
Obama revealed his support for gay marriage in an interview with ABC News.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo applauded President Obama's decision Wednesday to support same-sex marriage, calling it a "major advancement for equal rights in this country."
Cuomo said the president's decision would cause people around the country to think about their position on the controversial issue.
"I applaud the president's courage. I believe it will be respected by the people of this country," Cuomo said at a news conference at the Capitol. "I think it will be a great boost for marriage equality. I think his voice will give people yet another reason to analyze this issue and be open to the issue."
The Democratic governor last year shepherded through the state Legislature the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, the largest state in the country to do so.
Cuomo, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, said he and Obama didn't discuss same-sex marriage on Tuesday when the president was in Albany for an event.
Speaking for all U.S. Catholic Bishops, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who leads the Archdiocese of New York, released the following statement about the President's remarks:
"President Obama's comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. 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. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons."
Many Western New Yorkers who are part of the same-sex community tell 2 On Your Side this is the news they've been waiting to hear.
Jorien Brock, the Senior Director of the Pride Center of Western New York said, "It is particularly significant because this is the first time that a President has publicly stated that kind of support and recognition of LBGT families."