Will President Obama Legalize Same-Sex Marriage? You Asked!

During 'Ask Obama,' the president says the issue should be left up to the states, and one student responds.

On Friday, Barack Obama tackled all sorts of tough questions from young voters during “Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview With the President,” including whether he had a “game-changing idea” to lower the cost of higher education and his stance on stricter gun-control laws.

And the tough questions didn’t let up: Obama was asked whether his administration would continue in the tradition of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and work to ensure the rights of same-sex couples. While the president has already repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” and spoken out in favor of same-sex marriages, he told MTV News’ Sway Calloway that he believes the issue is best left to the states and the courts to decide.

“First of all, I’ve been very clear about my belief that same-sex couple have to be treated before the eyes of the law the same way as heterosexual couples. I think that’s the right thing to do. It’s based on my personal experience, seeing loving couples who are committed to each other, raising kids and are just outstanding people,” he told Sway. “And I was supportive of civil unions, but they taught me, if you’re using different words, if you’re somehow singling them out, they don’t feel true equality.

“But what I’ve also said is, historically, marriages have been defined at the state level. And there’s a conversation going on … there’s some states that are still having the debate. And I think for us to try to legislate federally into this is probably the wrong way to go,” Obama continued. “The courts are going to be examining these issues. I’ve stood up and said I’m opposed to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act … I’ve said that’s wrong, [and] there are a couple of cases that are working their way through the courts, and my expectation is that Defense of Marriage Act will be overturned. But, ultimately, I believe that if we have that conversation at the state level, the evolution that’s taking place in this country will get us to a place where we are going to be recognizing everybody fairly.”

Obama then went on to trumpet his record of “not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk” when it comes to the rights of gays and lesbians, mentioning ending DADT and making sure that the rights of gay and lesbian federal employees — and their partners — were protected. And he added that, if re-elected: “I’m going to keep on pushing as hard as I can, but what’s really going to change this is the fact that young people, their attitudes … are going to reflect the future instead of the past.”

Of course, that answer didn’t exactly sit well with Tucker, one of the young voters in the audience at Georgetown University, where MTV News hosted a discussion about Obama’s interview. And when MTV News correspondent Andrew Jenks brought the microphone his way, Tucker made sure his opinion on the matter was heard.

“My concern was about gays and lesbians and how they are treated in the United States, and I love having a president in the White House who can go on MTV and say that he thinks gay and lesbian people should get married, that’s great,” he said. “But the fact is, it’s been four years and the Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books, and I don’t think the conversation should be left to the states … and I believe in evolution too, but I believe there’s a right answer to that question, and we need to take it farther.

“The fact is, I’m from Washington state, and right now, we are having this conversation in our state, and I’m very afraid that at the end of the day, people in Washington state are going to vote on my rights to marry in a way that I don’t think is right,” he continued. “I’m not sure these are the kind of things that we talk about at the ballot box. The president said he’s not willing to have this conversation at the federal level, but the fact is, we’ve done this before in our history, with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and we can do it again, and I think it’s time to.”

MTV also invited Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, to participate in a similar live special, and hopes to conduct an interview with him in advance of Election Day on November 6.

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