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James Clyburn Breaks With Obama, Says Gay Marriage Should Not Be Left To States

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/14/2012 1:19 pm Updated: 05/14/2012 6:05 pm

Clyburn Gay Marriage

While President Obama gave his personal backing to same-sex marriage last Wednesday, he stopped short of advocating marriage equality for the entire country, saying that the matter should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

"I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at a local level," he told ABC's Robin Roberts.

On Monday, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a long-serving congressman and civil rights icon, said that leaving the issue to states was a mistake. "If you consider this a civil right, and I do, I don't think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach," he said during an appearance on MSNBC. "I think that we should have a national policy on this. State regulation is one thing, but the granting of the right to the states, I don't think that's a good policy and I have a problem with that."

Clyburn said that even though he disagrees with Obama on legislating gay marriage, he fully supported Obama's decision to come out in favor of equality. Echoing comments made to the Columbia Free-Times on Saturday, Clyburn told MSNBC host Chuck Todd that "I, like the President, have evolved to a point of marriage equality."

He spoke about the influence of his "fundamentalist" Christian upbringing, which he said had kept him from supporting gay marriage while younger.

"I grew up with that indoctrination, and I have grown to the point that I believe we have evolved to marriage equality," he said.

Despite his state-by-state stance, Obama has earned the praise of gay rights activists since the announcement, and was even declared the "first gay president" in a contentious Newsweek cover where he appeared underneath a rainbow-colored halo.

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