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Tenn. reacts to President's stance on same-sex marriage

May 10, 2012 NewsChannel5   Comments

NASHVILLE - After years of not aligning himself for or against same-sex marriage, President Barack Obama's opinion is now on the record.

"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," President Obama said.

President Obama speaks out a behalf of marriage equality

The President credited family and friends for helping his stance on the issue evolve over time.

"It's just really equal treatment, that's what people care about," according to Wes Aull, vice president for the Tennessee Equality Project.

TEP is a statewide GLBT advocacy group, and its members are encouraged by the President's remarks.

"We're glad to know the President has kind of thought this over and ended up feeling comfortable with the fact couples, other than heterosexual couples, can marry," Aull said.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam spoke out on the President's remarks shortly after the news broke Wednesday.

"I think it seems like the President has maybe changed over a period of time on that, which is his right to do. But that is not a position I am in favor of," Haslam said.

In 2006, Tennessee voters overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment that banned same sex unions.

David Fowler and his group Family Action Council of Tennessee lead the fight to pass that ban. Six years later, the President's newly publicized position did not surprise Fowler.

"I think he's finally actually articulated, what I believe, he believed all along, but was unwilling to say," Fowler said.

Fowler said voters will definitely hear more about same-sex marriage leading up to the November election.

"But as a political issue it's not at the same fevered pitch that perhaps it was six, eight, ten years ago," said Fowler.

In 2006, Tennessee 81% of voters passed the state's constitutional amendment that banned same-sex unions. Mississippi is the only other state where voters approved such an amendment with a higher vote total. 

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