Obama calls NY move to legalize same-sex marriage 'a good thing'

President Obama said he thought the move last week by New York's state legislature to allow same-sex marriage "was a good thing."

Obama, who's on record as being opposed to gay and lesbian marriage but has acknowledged an "evolving" decision, blessed the process in New York state that led to the legalization of same-sex marriages there.

"What happened in New York last week was a good thing," Obama said at a news conference.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pushed state lawmakers to authorize same-sex marriage, and after a long-fought battle, the legislators agreed.

Obama dodged the overall question as to whether he thought same-sex marriage was a civil right, but said he preferred the process wherein a state legislature takes the time to debate and then authorize gay marriage.

The president said he thought it was important to treat gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals with respect, and expressed a sense that American culture has shifted to recognize additional rights for those communities. (“We’re moving in a direction of greater equality, and I think that’s a good thing," he said.)

Still, Obama's faced some criticism from LGBT activists for not having acted aggressively enough on their behalf.

"This administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation," he said, referencing his administration's work to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" and to drop legal defenses of the Defense of Marriage Act.

As to whether his personal position toward same-sex marriage had changed? "I'm not going to make news on that," Obama said later in his press conference.