Monday, November 24th, 2014

Obama announces support for gay marriage

President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage in an ABC News interview today.
President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage in an ABC News interview today.

On the issue of gay marriage, President Barack Obama is no longer "evolving."

The president announced in an interview Tuesday with ABC News that, "I think same sex couples should be able to get married," according to a story posted here.

The announcement was immediately celebrated by gay marriage supporters in New Jersey, where legislators voted earlier this year to legalize it. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed the bill, calling for the issue to be put before voters in a referendum.

During the past year, PolitiFact New Jersey has analyzed four statements made by individuals in the Garden State in regard to gay marriage. Here's a breakdown of our rulings:

Obama-Christie views

In our most recent fact-check on the issue, we took on Christie's claim in February that he and Obama share the same views on gay marriage.

Christie opposes same-sex marriage and, at the time, Obama had not answered directly whether he supports it. Also, both leaders had expressed support for civil union laws and opposed discriminating against same-sex couples.

However, while Christie has called for a referendum in New Jersey, Obama has opposed referenda on same-sex marriage.

We rated Christie's claim Half True.

Interracial marriage

As the debate over legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey was getting under way, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, drew a parallel to the number of states that prohibited interracial marriage in 1958.

But, "in 1958, there were 16 states in this country that prohibited -- prohibited -- an African-American and a Caucasian from being married," Oliver said in January.

We found that Oliver was actually under-counting. By 1958, two dozen states still prohibited interracial marriage: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The speaker's claim was given a Mostly True.

Polls on gay marriage

Our last two fact-checks related to gay marriage had to deal with polling on the issue.

In January, we analyzed a claim by state Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, who said: "Opinion polls show that the majority of Americans, and the majority of New Jerseyans, favor marriage equality for same sex couples."

We found two state polls and four national polls showing that slightly more than 50 percent of respondents support legalizing same-sex marriage. But factoring in the margins of error, a majority of Americans might only support same-sex marriage based on one of those four national polls.

Two other national polls also suggested a closely divided electorate.

Gusciora received a Mostly True.

In July, Steven Goldstein, head of the gay rights advocacy group Garden State Equality, claimed: "Polls now show a majority of Catholics favor marriage equality, as does the general electorate."

Polls generally supported his claim, but since the margins of error could affect the results, we gave Goldstein a Mostly True.

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