Trenton Garris waves his rainbow flag in front of a banner in support of President Barack Obama who was visiting the Paramount Theater one day after announcing his support for same sex marriage, in Seattle on Thursday, May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)
NEW YORK (AP) - President Barack Obama on Monday defended his
view that gay couples should have the right to marry, saying that the country has never gone wrong when it "expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody."
"That doesn't weaken families. That strengthens families," he told gay and lesbian supporters and others at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin. "It's the right thing to do."
The remarks were his first to such an audience since he announced his personal support for same-sex marriage last week. They came on a day that Obama was making a targeted appeal to three core voting blocs - women, young people, and gays and lesbians.
"At root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect, and everybody deserves a shot," he said.
Obama's Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, says he believes that
marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.
Obama also called for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. His administration has refused to defend the law in court
challenges, and while Obama has voiced support for its repeal before, he specifically listed repeal as a goal.
Although Obama did not mention Romney's stance on gay marriage, he cast his challenger as a "rubber stamp" for congressional Republicans and cited his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, as a far
more independent Republican who believed in climate change and in
the need for overhauling the immigration system.
"What we've got this time out is a candidate who's said he would basically rubber stamp the Republican Congress and who wants us to go backwards and not forward," Obama said.