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Obama's statement on gay marriage is seen as a political gamble

President Barack Obama's announcement that he supports gay marriage sent ripples through the political world Wednesday. How has Obama's position evolved? How will this play out in the presidential campaign? Here's a look at some of the story's many facets:

Changing views

Obama said he came to support gay marriage after spending years talking to family and friends. Looking at his comments dating to 2009, here's a sampling of how his views have changed:

"I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples. " -- Human Rights Campaign, Oct. 11, 2009

"At this point, what I've said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have." -- News conference, Dec. 22, 2010

"Ultimately, they made a decision to recognize civil marriage. And I think that's exactly how things should work." -- News conference on New York's passage of gay marriage, June 29, 2011

"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." -- ABC News interview, May 9, 2012

Political analysis

Obama's embrace of gay marriage is a gamble that seeks to fire up young and liberal voters at the possible expense of alienating undecided voters in swing states such as North Carolina and Florida. Conversely, it is also likely to fire up conservative voters opposed to the president's position, possibly inspiring them to give more money and time to Republican Mitt Romney.

Some advisers, pointing to rapidly changing public views of gay rights, say Obama has more to gain than lose by the move. Strong opponents of same-sex marriage were unlikely to support him anyway, they say, and young voters who flocked to his historic 2008 campaign are hungry for reasons to get excited about his re-election bid.

Disappointed pastor

The Rev. Joel Hunter, the evangelical pastor whom Obama calls his spiritual adviser, says he's disappointed in Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage. Hunter says Obama called him before the interview aired with his endorsement.

Hunter says he told the president he disagreed with his interpretation of what the Bible says about marriage, and the president reassured him he would protect the religious freedom of churches that oppose gay marriage.

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