NEW YORK — US President Barack Obama on Monday sought to leverage his decision to back gay marriage for political gain, drawing a sharp contrast between his position and that of his Republican foe Mitt Romney.
But the president, still walking a delicate political line on the issue, declined to say whether he would personally lead the fight to repeal legislation which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
“This is going to be a big contrast in the campaign,” Obama said in an interview on the ABC chat show “The View” to be broadcast in full on Tuesday.
“You’ve got Governor Romney saying we should actually have a constitutional amendment installing the notion that you can’t have same-sex marriages,” Obama said.
Romney said on Saturday that he opposed gay marriage, a position taken by much of the conservative Republican base vote, saying “marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
Asked whether he would publicly take up the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which his administration has now ordered its lawyers not to defend in court, Obama said that “Congress is clearly on notice that I think it’s a bad idea.”
“We don’t think the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.”
But openly fighting to repeal the act ahead of November’s election could be politically problematic for Obama as he tries to woo conservative Democrats and independent voters in some key swing states.
Obama gave the interview in New York ahead of a political fundraising event hosted by the LGBT Leadership Council, which promotes gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender rights, and was introduced by gay singer Ricky Martin.
“I want everybody treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we expanded rights and responsibility to everyone,” Obama said, after getting a huge cheer when he took the stage.
“That doesn’t weaken families that strengthens families. It is the right thing to do,” he said, in an indirect reference to gay marriage.
Martin said that he admired Obama’s courage for last week becoming the first US president to say publicly that he backed gay marriage.
“That is the kind of courage we expect from our president and that is why we support him. We elected the right president at the right time.”