(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Makela)
Following President Obama's announcement Wednesday that he has changed his mind and now supports same-sex marriage, presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney immediately was asked to re-assert where he stands on the subject. Romney re-assured voters that his position on gay marriage has not changed and that he continues to believe that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman only.
Romney's comments immediately draw a sharp contrast between himself and Obama, and with Americans generally split evenly in their support and opposition of gay marriage according to a recent Gallop poll, the presidential race was well and truly set alight Wednesday afternoon.
Just hours after Obama made his landmark statement to finally put to bed where he stands on the issue, Romney was directly questioned on the issue with Denver's KDVR.
"My position is the same on gay marriage as it's been well, from the beginning, and that is that marriage is a relation between a man and a woman. That's the posture that I had as governor and I have that today," Romney said.
He continued: "I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name."
Romney explained that he was in support of giving some of the same rights afforded to legally married couples to those involved in domestic partnerships, but not same-sex marriage or civil unions.
"If a civil union is identical to marriage other than in the name, I don't support that. But I certainly recognize that hospital visitation rights and benefits of that nature may well be appropriate. And states are able to make provisions for determination of those kinds of rights as well as, if you will, benefits that might accrue to state workers."
The same-sex marriage debate has taken center stage over recent weeks after Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both indicated their support of gay marriage. North Carolina also voted Tuesday to pass an amendment that effectively bans gay marriage in the state, and which clearly reinforces the definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Biden, in comments to NBC's Meet The Press, stated, "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."
Following that outspoken statement President Obama was pressured to clarify his position on the issue. Over recent years he has stood on the fence on gay marriage, and insisted that his views were "evolving." However, on Wednesday he finally came out to state clearly what most have suspected for a long time; that he is now in favor of gay marriage.
In a hastily scheduled interview with ABC News, Obama said, "As I talked to friends, family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about those soldiers, or airmen, or marines, sailors who are fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married."