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Jun 23, 2011 8:36 PM by Matt Stafford

Obama says gay couples deserve same rights as all

NEW YORK (AP) - President Barack Obama is praising New York lawmakers who are debating historic legislation to legalize gay marriage. The president says that's what democracies are supposed to do, and that marriage has traditionally been decided by the states.

Obama also said he believes that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country.

But as expected, Obama stopped short Thursday of endorsing gay marriage outright as he spoke at a Manhattan fundraiser for gay and lesbian donors. It was his first fundraiser specifically for gay supporters.

Coincidentally the long-planned event happened just as lawmakers in the state capital, Albany, were maneuvering toward a historic vote legalizing same-sex marriage.

Negotiations were ongoing as Obama spoke. The president supports civil unions, not gay marriage.

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