CHICAGO (CBS) — A group that is leading the fight for same-sex marriage in Illinois is pleased to see President Obama change his view.
There were cheers and plenty of hugs in the Halsted Street office of Equality Illinois’ Lakeview office when the President disclosed his change of heart.
Public Policy Director Randy Hannig says he was not surprised that Mr. Obama changed his view, given comments Sunday by Vice President Joe Biden. But he said he was surprised that Mr. Obama decided to go public before the November election.
Hannig said the public perception of same-sex marriage is changing.
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“You’re going to see a lot more acceptance, and you’re already seeing polling nationally where those under the age of 35 or 40 are phenomenally more accepting of marriage equality and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues than those older Americans who, frankly, didn’t have any exposure to that growing up,” he said.
But he said Tuesday’s vote in North Carolina to bar same-sex marriage shows proponents still have a difficult road ahead, and he said change on the federal level, which would be necessary to put heterosexual and same-sex couples on an even playing field, is impossible in Washington’s current political climate.
The group is working to support candidates who endorse same-sex marriage on both the state and federal levels.
Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, life and business partners, are also thankful for Obama declaring his support for same-sex marriage.
They run the Hearty Boys catering and restaurant in Edgewater. They said they helped raise campaign cash for Obama when he ran for president in 2008.
“It was nice to have the leader of the free world come out and say, ‘Yeah, I’m for gay marriage,’ because what’s the big deal?” Smith said.
Although Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage has taken some time, the couple welcome’s the progress.
“What strength, what character did it take for him to say something as explosive as ‘I am coming out for marriage equality,'” McDonagh said.
But not everyone is so happy about the words from the White House.
Cardinal Francis George released a statement saying, “The Catholic Church teaches what She has received from the Lord. Faithful Catholics hold that natural marriage is constituted in a relationship between a man and a woman whose mutual love is shared for life and for the sake of the family.”
Not so, said several students near the Loyola University campus on Wednesday.
“If you’re going to have these people living together, you may as well make it legal,” one young woman said.
Brian Richardson and Alberto Varona married in California three years ago. Brian serves the LGBT community at The Center on Halsted and said he couldn’t have gotten a better anniversary present than the President’s support.
“It was thrilling to hear the President of the United States speak affirmatively about me and my relationship,” Richardson said.
Those who support the president’s move said they know he might lose some voters because of his support for same-sex marriage, but they believe he might also pick up some independent voters who were holding off their support while his position on the issue was still evolving.