President Barack Obama told ABC News' Robin Roberts that same-sex marriage should be legal.
In his interview, Obama said, "I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
Obama's words came a day after North Carolina approved of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman, making it the 30th state to ban same sex marriage.
More on GlobalPost: North Carolina Amendment One: Obama is 'disappointed' with vote
There was increasing pressure on Obama to clarify his stance on gay marriage, after Vice President Joe Biden said on May 6 that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage and believed that same-sex couples were "entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties," according to MSNBC.
Obama spoke of his "evolution" on the topic and said that his hesitation on endorsing gay marriage stemmed from the belief that civil unions would be enough to afford same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections that married couples enjoy. He also stressed that his statement was a personal opinion, and that states still had a right to decide the issue on their own, according to ABC News.
Before Obama's interview, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined to comment on same-sex marriage. "Not on the ropeline," he said, while shaking supporter's hands, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Earlier in the day, Romney, who was serving as the governor of Massachusetts when the state's highest court legalized gay marriage, reiterated his opposition, saying, "Well when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name."
He added, "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not," according to The LA Times.
More on GlobalPost: Gallup poll: Gay marriage supported by 50% of Americans
Watch the clip, courtesy of ABC News:
Here are some reactions to Obama's statement: