"It was important for me, given how much attention this issue was getting--both here in Washington but elsewhere--for me to go ahead, let's be clear, here's what I believe," Obama told ABC News.
"But I'm not going to be spending most of my time talking about this, because frankly my job as president right now, my biggest priority, is to make sure that we're growing the economy, that we're putting people back to work, that we're managing the draw-down in Afghanistan effectively," he said. "Those are the things that I'm going to focus on."
One in six of the Obama campaign's "bundlers"--who corral big money donors--is gay, according to The Washington Post.
Hours before the interview, Mitt Romney and his campaign were keeping their powder dry. Aides did not respond to requests for comment, and the presumptive Republican nominee himself shook off a question as he shook hands after a campaign event near Denver. "Not on the ropeline," Romney replied, when Politico's Reid Epstein asked him if he had any comment on the "president and gay marriage."
Romney did address the topic of same-sex marriage during a television interview Wednesday in Denver. Asked by Fox affiliate KDVR-TV about a bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado, Romney reiterated his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, 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 said. "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not."
A Romney spokeswoman did not respond to a request to clarify what Romney meant by "others."
There is little evidence to support the oft-repeated claim that coming out in favor of gay marriage will cost Obama much support among black voters.
But political analysts also point to working-class, white, religious voters in pivotal states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, and conservative-leaning independents in other important states like Iowa and Nevada as potentially put off by Obama's new position.
"African-American voters, who tend to be less sympathetic to gay marriage than white voters, are very enthused about Obama and, I think, this won't change that," said Ohio State University political science professor Paul Allen Beck .
"But the question in places like Ohio will be how this affects blue-collar white voters who might otherwise be predisposed to vote Democratic. For some of them, particularly the ones who are more deeply religious, this could be important," Beck told Yahoo News.
"For almost all Americans, this won't be directly a factor in November. But elections are won and lost at the margins, especially in Ohio," Beck said.
Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey's reelection fight highlights the difficult balancing act for politicians in swing states. Casey opposes gay marriage but favors allowing civil unions. His Republican opponent, Tom Smith, would favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but would not support a ban on civil unions, Smith's campaign manager Jim Conroy told Yahoo News by telephone.