Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The gay rights movement got a major boost from the White House on Wednesday, as President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage.
The President said his young daughters have friends with gay parents and that helped change his perspective.
"It’s important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married,” President Obama said.
His tone was clear, a different stance from 2008 when the President was pushing civil unions as a fair alternative to same-sex marriage.
"If he plays this well as part of his evolution rather than a flip-flop, he'll be okay. If it plays out as a flip-flop, it’s going to work against him,” said SU Law Professor, Charles Sprock.
Is it back peddling or a sign of social change? The President's comments come as members of his cabinet, including the vice president, publicly endorsed gay marriage in recent days.
Aseemblyman William Barclay said, “I think that just put tremendous pressure on President Obama. But, I'm not so sure it shows a social shift. I think he kind of got boxed in and realized he couldn't nuance the issue anymore and really had to take a position on it."
"I mean you want to talk about rapid evolution right? This state voted it down a few years ago. I think it’s happening and I think it’s happening at a quick pace and I think the President taking this position is going to accelerate the evolution,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney offers an opposing view with each side gambling that a social divide will influence voters in November.
"Some people feel that this was the best move he could have made. This is going to energize the base. Research shows that one in six of the President's supporters identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” Sprock told NewsChannel 9.
In New York, straight or gay couples can get a marriage license with a quick trip to city hall. Nationwide, the decision rests in the hands of each state government, regardless of the stance of the president or his opponent.