Clyburn splits with Obama, says gay marriage should not be left up to states

House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that although he supports same-sex marriage rights, he doesn't agree with President Obama on allowing states to decide marriage policy.

"I, like the president, have evolved to a point of marriage equality. I have not always been there … I have grown to the point where I believe we have evolved to marriage equality," said Clyburn on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown."


"However, I depart from the president on the state-by-state approach. If you consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don't think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach," he added. 

Clyburn revealed over the weekend that he was in favor of granting same-sex marriage rights, in his first remarks on the issue since the president announced his endorsement of gay marriage last Wednesday.

Clyburn told MSNBC that despite growing up in a "fundamentalist Christian parsonage," he has come to the conclusion that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed, a position he said he did not always hold.

The South Carolina congressman, though, split from Obama, calling for a national marriage policy.

"State regulation is one thing, but the granting of states the right … I don't think that's a good policy and I have a problem with that," he added. 

Last week, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, however the president said he believes states should decide the issue on their own.

"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 and I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at a local level," said Obama in an interview with ABC News.

Obama's announcement, which came after Vice President Biden made public his own support for gay marriage last Sunday, has political implications this election year. 

A poll conducted for The Hill found that 40 percent of likely voters believe that the president is too supportive of gay rights. But 40 percent also believe his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, is not supportive enough.

Obama's announcement also followed a vote in North Carolina, a key swing state, where voters approved a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.