Transcript: Robin Roberts ABC News Interview With President Obama


You know, Malia and Sasha, they've got friends whose parents are same-sex couples. And I-- you know, there have been times where Michelle and I have been sittin' around the dinner table. And we've been talkin' and-- about their friends and their parents. And Malia and Sasha would-- it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them. And-- and frankly-- that's the kind of thing that prompts-- a change of perspective. You know, not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated-- differently, when it comes to-- the eyes of the law.

ROBIN ROBERTS: I-- I know you were saying-- and are saying about it being on the local level and the state level. But as president of the United States and this is a game changer for many people, to hear the president of the United States for the first time say that personally he has no objection to same-sex marriage. Are there some actions that you can take as president? Can you ask your Justice Department to join in the litigation in fighting states that are banning same-sex marriage?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I-- you know, my Justice Department has already-- said that it is not gonna defend-- the Defense Against Marriage Act. That we consider that a violation of equal protection clause. And I agree with them on that. You know? I helped to prompt that-- that move on the part of the Justice Department.

Part of the reason that I thought it was important-- to speak to this issue was the fact that-- you know, I've got an opponent on-- on the other side in the upcoming presidential election, who wants to-- re-federalize the issue and-- institute a constitutional amendment-- that would prohibit gay marriage. And, you know, I think it is a mistake to-- try to make what has traditionally been a state issue into a national issue.

I think that-- you know, the winds of change are happening. They're not blowin'-- with the same force in every state. But I think that what you're gonna see is-- is-- is states-- coming to-- the realization that if-- if a soldier can fight for us, if a police officer can protect our neighborhoods-- if a fire fighter is expected to go into a burning building-- to save our possessions or our kids. The notion that after they were done with that, that we'd say to them, "Oh but by the way, we're gonna treat you differently. That you may not be able to-- enjoy-- the-- the ability of-- of passing on-- what you have to your loved one, if you-- if you die. The notion that somehow if-- if you get sick, your loved one might have trouble visiting you in a hospital."

You know, I think that as more and more folks think about it, they're gonna say, you know, "That's not who we are." And-- and-- as I said, I want to-- I want to emphasize-- that-- I've got a lot of friends-- on the other side of this issue. You know, I'm sure they'll be callin' me up and-- and I respect them. And I understand their perspective, in part, because-- their impulse is the right one. Which is they want to-- they want to preserve and strengthen families.

And I think they're concerned about-- won't you see families breaking down. It's just that-- maybe they haven't had the experience that I have had in seeing same-sex couples, who are as committed, as monogamous, as responsible-- as loving of-- of-- of a group of parents as-- any-- heterose-- sexual couple that I know. And in some cases, more so.

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