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Obama calls N.Y. same-sex marriage law ‘a good thing’

Gays and lesbians deserve to be “treated like all Americans,” President Obama said at Wednesday’s news conference, but he stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage.

“I’m not going to make news on that today,” he joked in response to a reporter’s question.

The president has been on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, but has sought to navigate a middle position by saying the matter should be decided by individual states, not the federal government.

Speaking in the East Room of the White House, Obama lauded the recent move by the New York Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage, calling it “a good thing.”

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“I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American. And I think that principle will win out,” he said.

But Obama said the question remained one for states to resolve. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

“Each community is going to be different and each state is going to be different,” he said.

Obama touted his administration’s accomplishments on behalf of the gay community, including ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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“We’re moving in a direction of greater equality, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

But Obama gave no sign that he planned to embrace same-sex marriage.

When asked about it again, he said, “I’ll keep giving you the same answer until I give you a different one.”

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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