Although he came out in support of same-sex marriage last week, President Obama on Monday declined to say whether he would work with congressional Democrats to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Taping Tuesday’s episode of the ABC daytime talk show “The View” before a largely female audience, Mr. Obama noted that his administration has stopped defending DOMA in court.
DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and Democratic leaders in Congress are feeling emboldened to try to repeal it since Mr. Obama’s pronouncement last week that he supports gay marriage.
But the president wouldn’t commit to that legislative fight.
“Congress is clearly on notice that I think it’s a bad idea,” Mr. Obama said, according to excerpts of the interview provided by ABC News. “We don’t think the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.
“This is something that historically had been determined at the state level and part of my believing ultimately that civil unions weren’t sufficient, and I’ve been a longtime supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples, was partly because of the issue of Social Security benefits and other laws.”
Mr. Obama added that his decision gives voters a clear difference between himself and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
“This is going to be a big contrast in the campaign because you’ve got Gov. Romney saying we should actually have a constitutional amendment installing the notion that you can’t have same-sex marriages,” Mr. Obama said.
After leaving the show’s Manhattan studio, the president drew applause when he mentioned the possible repeal of DOMA at a fundraiser co-sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council in New York.
“I want everyone treated fairly in this country,” he said. “We have never gone wrong when we’ve extended rights and responsibilities to everybody. That doesn’t weaken families, that strengthens families.”
The president also said the election between himself and Mitt Romney was more of a “clear contrast” than in 2008, when Mr. Obama faced Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who shared common ground with Mr. Obama on climate change and immigration.
“What we have this time is a candidate who said he would rubber-stamp a Republican Congress that wants us to go backward, not forward,” Mr. Obama said.
Tickets for the fundraiser started at $5,000, with about 200 people in attendance, including actress and Obama bundler Eva Longoria. Singer Ricky Martin co-hosted.
Mr. Martin, an openly gay pop star, introduced Mr. Obama to the crowd gathered at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea and thanked him for his courage to stand up in support of same-sex marriage.
“That is the kind of courage we expect from our president and that is why we support him,” Mr. Martin said. “He knows we’re in this together and that together we’re stronger than divided. We elected the right president at the right time.”
From there, Mr. Obama attended another fundraiser at the home of Hamilton “Tony” E. James, president of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. The fundraiser comes as Mr. Obama’s campaign team is taking swipes anew at Mr. Romney for his work at the helm of Bain Capital, another such firm.
Tickets for the second fundraiser cost $35,800 per person, with 60 people attending.
Mr. Obama also told the audience on “The View” that the $2 billion in trading losses incurred by JPMorgan Chase exemplified the need for Wall Street reform.
“JPMorgan is one of the best-managed banks there is,” Mr. Obama said. “Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got and they still lost $2 billion and counting. We don’t know all the details. It’s going to be investigated, but this is why we passed Wall Street reform.”
His full interview on “The View” will air Tuesday.