CITY HALL — New Yorkers and local politicians applauded President Barack Obama Wednesday after he expressed his support for gay marriage publicly for the very first time.
In an interview with Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America," Obama said that, after careful consideration, he has decided to support gay marriage, reversing his earlier position in the wake of mounting pressure to articulate his stance.
"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," the president said.
The words elicited cheers from public officials and marriage equality advocates across the city, less than a year after gay marriage was legalized in New York and days after Vice President Joe Biden let slip that he supported the move, too.
"This is an amazing day, our President coming out in support of marriage equality," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is preparing for a spring wedding with her long-time partner later this month.
"When the President of the United States validates you, your family, your friends and your loved ones by saying that yes — you are full citizens who deserve full equal rights — it’s a truly American moment."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the remarks "a major turning point in the history of American civil rights.”
“No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people,” he said.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the President’s convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."
At the Stonewall Inn in the West Village, an institution in the gay rights movement, a sign was placed outside the door encouraging passersby to toast the president's remarks.
"Obama supports gay marriage, let's drink!" the placard read.
Randy Guzman, 32, of Bushwick, said it's not too late for the president to support gay marriage, despite what some in the gay community have said.
"He has grown and evolved, and he is moving in the right direction on this issue," said Guzman. "Maybe he's not making the move he should make, but at least he is moving forward."
And Niki Buchanan, 37, of Chelsea, said did not think the timing of Obama's announcement was an effort to gain a boost in the polls prior to the next presidential campaign.
"He has always stood up for us, and I love that he waited until now so that maybe he could ease
people into it and make people more understanding to our needs," she said.
Lynn Faria, interim executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, also celebrated the move, but cautioned that, even with the President's support, there are still many barriers to full equality.
“The President's support for marriage equality does not mean that the fight for fairness and equality for LGBT individuals and their families is over,” she said.