Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
UPDATE: President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage for the first time on Wednesday, saying that he thought it was important for him to "go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." Full story here.
Wednesday, May 9 at 11:46 a.m.: Obama is expected to speak about his same-sex marriage views, until now usually summarized as "evolving," in an interview to air in full on Good Morning America on Thursday.
Politico reports that the "hastily scheduled interview" was arranged by the White House after North Carolina's passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions on Tuesday.
ABC News' Robin Roberts will ask Obama about where he stands on the issue that has increasingly taken center stage in the current national debate, according to the report. The president, via his re-election campaign, has already said he's "disappointed" by the amendment's passage. But to date the president hasn't delivered the full-throated endorsement of same-sex marriage that many of his liberal supporters are hoping for.
The interview will be recorded Wednesday afternoon, with some details expected to be released before it airs on Thursday. We'll update here as warranted.
Wednesday, May 9: Obama is "disappointed" in the passage of North Carolina's state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.
In a statement late Tuesday, Cameron French, the president's re-election campaign spokesperson for North Carolina, said that Obama opposes "divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples."
French continued (via Politico): "[Obama] believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it. President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment."
The Obama administration's stance on gay marriage, ambiguously summed up as "evolving," has been under increased scrutiny this week as Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both publicly supported same-sex marriages. A new poll out Tuesday indicated that the country is still sharply divided on the issue, with 50 percent supporting same-sex marriage, and 48 percent opposing it.
Tuesday, May 8: North Carolina voters on Tuesday approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, a move that had been expected but nonetheless delivers a significant blow to gay-marriage advocates who are now 0-for-31 on statewide referendums.
The Tar Heel State already had a law on the books preventing gays and lesbians from tying the knot, but conservative lawmakers and their like-minded allies pushed the referendum known as Amendment One anyway out of a concern that courts might overturn the existing ban.
The campaign battle in the lead-up to Tuesday's vote was an intense one that saw an estimated $3 million spent by the two sides. Gay rights advocates had help from Bill Clinton but ultimately the former president was unable to change the outcome in the religious (yet relatively socially moderate) state. [Slate's Will Saletan has a look at the biblical fear-mongering that the amendment's backers used.]
North Carolina had been the only state in the Southeast without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage but, with Tuesday's vote, will become the 30th in the nation with one.
The defeat for LGBT advocates comes in a week that has seen the debate over gay marriage at the center of the national conversation, thanks in large part to Vice President Joe Biden suggesting he was "absolutely comfortable" with allowing gays and lesbians to wed.
Those comments, along with similar ones from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, appeared to energize many on the left and increase liberal pressure on President Obama to speak out in favor of same-sex marriage, something he has so far been unwilling to do.
North Carolina's amendment states "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized" in the state. Opponents say that not only will it prohibit gay marriage and civil unions, but also weaken legal arrangements like domestic partnerships. That, critics say, could jeopardize everything from some children's health insurance benefits to hospital visitation rights.
Gay rights advocates have been on something of a judicial and state legislative hot streak of late, but they have been so far unable to post a victory in a voter referendum on gay marriage. As the Washington Post points out, voters have gone to the polls 31 times since 1998 to have their say on statewide ballot measures on the issue; advocates for same-sex marriage have lost every time.
Prior to North Carolina, the last statewide referendum was in 2009 in Maine, where 53 percent of voters rejected a new law that would have allowed gays and lesbians to walk down the aisle. Liberals, however, are cautiously optimistic that they may finally earn their first victory this November when Maryland and a handful of other liberal-leaning states have their own referendums on the issue.