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Obama Gay Marriage Stance Draws Mixed Reaction Worldwide


(L-R) Same-sex marriage advocate John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney speak during a celebratory toast to Obama's support of same-sex marriage in San Francisco, California, May 9, 2012.

(L-R) Same-sex marriage advocate John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney speak during a celebratory toast to Obama's support of same-sex marriage in San Francisco, California, May 9, 2012.

U.S. President Barack Obama's expression of support for same-sex marriage is generating both praise and criticism here in the United States. People around the world are also taking time to reflect on his historic announcement.

An Egyptian florist in Cairo, Said Mohamed Hemeida, says he does not approve of men marrying men or women marrying women.

He says it is bad and wrong for a president of a republic to think like that. He says he doesn't think it is in America's interest.

Mr. Obama said Wednesday in a televised U.S. interview that he supports same-sex marriage. It was a significant shift of position from his earlier statements on the subject, when he said his view on the matter was "evolving."

In South Africa, same-sex marriage is already legal, although political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says the majority of South Africans are opposed to it. He blames the dichotomy on South Africa's conversion from white minority rule to black majority rule in 1994.

"In America by contrast, civil rights have always been won in an evolutionary way," said McKaiser. "In South Africa, we had a revolutionary break with the past, which is why our legislation in favor of gay rights is so much more progressive, even though it is ahead of social attitudes."

In conservative South Korea, Lee Jong-geol, general director of a gay men's rights group, Chingusai, says he expects his countrymen to be slow to adapt to the idea of same-sex marriage.

He says he doesn't think gay marriage will happen in South Korea in the near term, even if it is legally accepted by American society.

In Argentina - the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage - gay activist Jose Maria Di Bello praised Mr. Obama's statements to a crowd gathered outside the Buenos Aires building hosting the Argentine National Congress. They were celebrating passage of further gender-rights legislation.

He says he welcomes President Obama's comments. He says gay marriage is a matter of respecting the concept and the principle of equality.

Elsewhere Germany's openly gay foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, has praised the Obama statement, calling it a courageous step. But Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to vote against legalization of same-sex marriage when bill comes before the Australian parliament later this year. Their comments reflect the mixed reception Mr. Obama's historic announcement has generated both at home and abroad.
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