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Obama supports gay marriage rights; didn't discuss matter Tuesday with Cuomo

ALBANY – With President Obama saying this afternoon he supports gay marriage rights, one of the Democratic Party’s chief advocates for legalizing same-sex marriages said the topic was not discussed a day earlier during Obama’s trip to Albany.

Obama sat down with Good Morning America this afternoon at the White House and ABC News is reporting that Obama said his position has evolved to the point where he now supports gay marriage rights.

“We had a few conversations … The issue did not come up,’’ Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today when asked about private time he shared with Obama Monday during a stop by the president at the University at Albany.

The president’s comments this afternoon came after Vice President Biden on Sunday said he would now be “absolutely’’ comfortable with the legalization of same-sex marriages. A day ago, North Carolina voters approved a measure to ban same-sex marriage rights.

Asked earlier Wednesday if he was disappointed Obama had not spoken out in support of gay marriage rights, Cuomo said, “I wouldn’t presume to tell the president of the United States what his opinion should be or his politics or strategy.’’

Despite the vote in North Carolina, Cuomo said he believes more and more states will be adopting, like New York did last year, laws okaying marriage between gay couples. He stopped short of federal action on the matter. “I believe in states’ rights … I don’t know if the solution should be the federal government telling the states what to do,’’ Cuomo said.

In his interview this afternoon, ABC News reported the president said: “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have 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 or 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 are 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 I think same sex couples should be able to get married.’’

UPDATE: Cuomo late this afternoon called the president's new public position "a major advancement for equal rights in this country.''

"I applaud the president's courage. I believe it will be respected by the people of this country. I think it's going to be a great boost for marriage equality,'' Cuomo told reporters in the Capitol's Red Room.

The governor noted that the gay marriage issue is one being played out in the states, not directly in Washington. "But I think the fact that the president of the United States takes this position will cause people around the country to say, 'Let me think about this again,''' Cuomo said.

With GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this morning again saying he opposes same-sex marriage rights, Cuomo said he did not know if the president's position will make the gay marriage issue more partisan. "I think people respect officials who are willing to stand up and give their position on a controversial position, whether or not they disagree with it,'' the governor said.

-- Tom Precious

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