Rep. James Clyburn
Top Democrat: We Need National Marriage Equality

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com May 15 2012 1:54 PM ET

Rep. James Clyburn said Monday that he too has evolved and agrees with President Obama's recent revelation on marriage equality.

The third-ranking House Democrat, from South Carolina, added that a national law should be in place to address marriage rights for same-sex couples. Twenty-nine states, including Clyburn's home state and all of its Southern neighbors, have constitutional bans on marriage equality.

"In my lifetime it was illegal in some states — this state one of them — for black and white couples to get married,” Clyburn said to MSNBC. "Sometimes it takes the federal government to step into the breach to resolve many of these issues. It certainly did that through the courts with the marriage question and it also did the same thing when it comes to whether people of color have the same rights that white people have."

A mid-2011 poll showed that 41% of African-Americans supported marriage equality. However, a new poll from ABC News and The Washington Post  indicates that 54% of African-Americans support Obama's stance, suggesting that his announcement may have swayed some to rethink the issue.