Obama Talks Gay Marriage, Politics and Pop Culture on 'The View'

President defends gay marriage move - and Biden - splits pop-culture test.

ByABC News
May 15, 2012, 10:29 AM

May 15, 2012 -- President Obama does not fault his vice president for forcing his hand on the issue of same-sex marriage because "it came out of a generosity of spirit," he said in a wide-ranging interview on ABC's "The View" this morning.

"When you get to know Joe Biden, he is the most honest, straightforward guy," Obama said. "He's warm; he tells you what he thinks. We talked about it and what I said was I'm never going to blame anybody for telling what they believe."

Obama told ABC News last week that Biden got "a little bit over his skis" by publicly supporting same-sex marriage, forcing the president to speed up plans to announce his support for the unions.

"I think it's important for everybody in my administration to feel like, you know, we want to be disciplined, we want to make sure we're getting the message out there but at the same time, on issues of principle, you know, I always admire people who go ahead and speak their minds," the president told the hosts of "The View" in a segment that was taped Monday.

The president also revealed that he had originally considered breaking the news on today's program. "It was a possibility. It was," he said. "We had been discussing it for a few weeks and we thought, what are the formats where we could talk about it not just as a policy issue but as a personal issue and all of you came to mind."

As the story escalated, however, the White House decided to bump up the announcement, ultimately breaking the news in an interview last week with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America."

Despite the president's historic decision to support same-sex marriage, he declined to say whether he would go a step further and publicly take up the fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman.

The administration has already stopped defending the legislation, but the president said the rest is up to Capitol Hill.

"Congress is clearly on notice that I think it's a bad idea," the president said. "This is going to be a big contrast in the campaign because you've got Governor [Mitt] Romney saying we should actually have a constitutional amendment installing the notion that you can't have same-sex marriages."

When asked by ABC's Barbara Walters whether he would fight federal laws that limit the rights of gay and lesbian couples, the president noted, "we don't think the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional."

"This is something that historically had been determined at the state level and part of my believing ultimately that civil unions weren't sufficient, and I've been a longtime supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples, was partly because of the issue of Social Security benefits and other laws," he said.

Obama also made clear that, although he just recently embraced same-sex unions, his position differs greatly from that of Romney, explaining that the issue is one of the many on which he and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee have starkly different visions.

"Mitt Romney has said he wants a constitutional amendment," Obama said. "That federalized the whole issue. He would defend the Defense of Marriage Act. So there are real differences here."

Ultimately, the president said social issues such as same-sex marriage will not determine the election come November.