By Erik Wasson
House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) has backed President Obama and come out in favor of gay marriage, according to a Saturday report in the Columbia, S.C., Free Times.
“I support his position in so far as gay marriage is concerned, but I don't think it ought to be left up to the states,” Clyburn was quoted as saying. “I think it ought to be national.”
As a prominent southern African American politician, Clyburn's clarified position carries some risk. Gay marriage is less accepted in the black community and doesn't poll well in South Carolina. Last week, 60 percent of voters in North Carolina voted to ban the practice.
Clyburn had been mum on the marriage issue since Obama revealed Wednesday that he now supports the right of same sex couples to marry. The White House said Obama's announcement was planned for later, but was essentially forced when Vice President Biden last Sunday came out in favor of gay marriage.
Late on Thursday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced that he was jumping on the bandwagon. He said that he has long supported civil unions but now believes failing to grant full marriage rights denies gays equal treatment. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has long supported gay marriage.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that while he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he does not buy that allowing same sex couples to marry affects him or his family in any way. He said Thursday he would join in voting to allow gay marriage if the opportunity presented itself.
Reid predicted gay marriage would be in the Democratic party platform approved at the August convention.
In contrast, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday flatly stated his opposition to gay marriage.