Hoyer endorses gay marriage

“Because I believe that equal treatment is a central tenet of our nation, I believe that extending the definition of marriage to committed relationships between two people, irrespective of their sex, is the right thing to do and will not, in any way, undermine the institution of marriage so important to our society nor impose a threat to any individual marriage," Hoyer said in a statement. "It will, however, extend the respect due to every one of our fellow citizens that we would want for ourselves and our children."

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The endorsement marks a shift for Hoyer, who voted in 1996 in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits same-sex marriage, and four years later backed "the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman."

But Obama changed the playing field Wednesday when he ditched his "evolving" view on gay marriage and endorsed it instead.

"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 said in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.

Obama's shift was hailed by long-time gay-marriage supporters, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while forcing some Democratic opponents of same-sex marriage to rethink their positions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for instance, had also voted for DOMA in 1996, but said this week that he supports Obama's view.

"My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman," Reid said. "But in a civil society, I believe that people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it’s no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married."