Snapshots: Severe Thunderstorms Descend Upon D.C.

Maryland, Tornado

Commuters on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway drive under increasingly ominous clouds near Fort Meade, Md., on Friday, June 1.

A series of strong thunderstorms spawned several tornadoes in the D.C. metropolitan area on Friday, June 1.

Here are a few snapshots of the storms and the resulting impact.

D.C., Tornado

Traffic came to a virtual halt on New York Avenue in D.C. on Friday, June 1, as the thunderstorms descended upon the nation’s capital.

D.C., Tornado

Traffic remained slow on New York Avenue in D.C. as the thunderstorms moved through the metropolitan area on Friday, June 1.

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Postcards from Manhattan

The dreary weather that descended upon New York City earlier today provided the perfect backdrop to peruse Century 21’s always bountiful discounts in lower Manhattan.

Here are a few snapshots from Ground Zero and underneath Times Square while en route back to the Upper West Side.

Low clouds envelop the top of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero on Tuesday afternoon.

Public art beneath Times Square between the E and 1 trains.

A common sentiment among New Yorkers? At least one person beneath Times Square on Tuesday urged passersby to take notice.

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Poll: Obama’s Marriage Position Not a Factor for Majority of Voters

A new USA Today/Gallup poll indicates that President Barack Obama’s support of marriage for gays and lesbians will not prove a factor this November for the majority of American voters.

Sixty percent of respondents who participated in the survey on Thursday said the president’s announcement does not make them more or less likely to vote for him. Sixty-five percent of Democrats said Obama’s position makes no difference, compared to 46 percent of GOP respondents. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said they oppose the president’s endorsement of nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to only 25 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Independents.

LGBT rights groups were quick to welcome Obama’s long-awaited public support of marriage for gays and lesbians during an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts on Wednesday at the White House.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quick to stress he supports marriage as between a man and a woman. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed the former Massachusetts governor’s position during a Fox News interview hours after Obama’s historic announcement, but he quickly pointed out that the economy remains congressional Republicans’ primary focus.

Only 19 percent of those who participated in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual straw poll in February said “traditional values” is the most important issue during this election cycle. Only one percent of those who voted in the 2011 CPAC straw poll said thwarting marriage for gays and lesbians was their top priority.

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A Decisive Affirmation of LGBT Americans

Outside the White House hours after President Barack Obama endorsed marriage for gays and lesbians.

A growing sense of anticipation had descended upon the nation’s capital by the time ABC News’ Robin Roberts arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon for her hastily arranged exclusive interview with President Barack Obama. Speculation had grown throughout the day that he was about to publicly endorse marriage for same-sex couples for the first time. And then it happened.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” said Obama.

This personal declaration capped off a sometimes awkward evolution on marriage for same-sex couples that threatened to alienate some of the president’s most enthusiastic supporters who had grown increasingly impatient with his failure to publicly back the issue. Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of nuptials for gays and lesbians during a pre-taped interview that aired on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and the passage of a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman in North Carolina only exacerbated this growing angst.

What led the country to this landmark moment?

A Gallup poll on Tuesday—the same day that North Carolina voters approved Amendment One—found that 50 percent of Americans support nuptials for same-sex couples. An Arcus Foundation-funded report that the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions released last month noted that 54 percent of Latinos now back marriage for gays and lesbians. While Obama’s position is consistent with the majority of Americans, nearly half of the country remains opposed to nuptials for same-sex couples.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney attempted to tap into this opposition at an Oklahoma campaign event hours after the president’s announcement. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a similar statement against marriage for gays and lesbians during a Fox Business interview.

Does this entrenched opposition to nuptials for same-sex couples even matter anymore?

Boehner himself appeared to answer this question with his assertion that congressional Republicans remain focused on the economy.

“The American people are still asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’ he said during the Fox Business interview. “Our focus is going to continue to be on the economy like it has been for the last year and a half.”

Only 19 percent of those who participated in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual straw poll in February listed “traditional values” as the most important issue in this election cycle. Only one percent of participants who voted in the 2011 CPAC straw poll said stopping marriage for gays and lesbians was their top priority.

Politics ultimately determines the content of any president’s public statements, and Obama’s endorsement of marriage for gays and lesbians is certainly no different. This watershed moment was much more than a cynical political calculation. It was a decisive affirmation that the president truly believes that LGBT Americans deserve full equality.

And for that, we should be grateful.

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Obama Endorses Marriage Equality

President Barack Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts on Tuesday that he supports marriage for same-sex couples.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” said Obama.

The president’s comments come less than a day after North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed nuptials for gays and lesbians earlier in the week.

“Today, President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society and that our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who co-sponsored a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, described Obama’s announcement as proof of his commitment to LGBT Americans. “The president’s unequivocal support today in favor of all committed couples to marry the person they love is a watershed moment in American history that will provide the leadership needed to finally repeal DOMA and win the unfinished fight for equality for all Americans.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who co-chairs a coalition of more than 200 mayors who support nuptials for gays and lesbians, agreed.

“Only a day after the disheartening passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina, the supporters of marriage equality now have a reason to celebrate,” he said. “With his inspired declaration of support for same-sex marriage, President Obama has significantly advanced the cause of human rights and equality in the United States. We look forward to the day when all Americans – gay and straight – are free to follow their hearts and marry the person they love. If we truly believe in family values, we should value all families.”

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North Carolina Voters Approve Marriage Amendment

The Associated Press is reporting that North Carolina voters have approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

With 35 percent of precincts reporting, Amendment One passed by a 58-42 percent margin.

“The passage of Amendment One is a heartbreaking loss for families in North Carolina, but will not stop us in the march toward full equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “As the country continues to move in the direction of marriage equality, our opponents have cynically interrupted the important conversations taking place which lead to increased understanding and acceptance.”

Amendment One passed the same day that a Gallup poll reported that half of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday announced he supports nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Vice President Joe Biden made a similar endorsement during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. The White House continues to maintain that Biden and Duncan’s position remains consistent with President Barack Obama’s comments on the issue.

“The president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” Cameron French, spokesperson for the president’s re-election campaign in North Carolina, told Boy in Bushwick. “He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it.  President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment.  On a federal level, he has ended the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act and extended key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.”

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Gallup: Half of Americans Support Marriage Equality

A new Gallup poll finds that half of Americans now support marriage for same-sex couples.

This figure is a slight decrease from the 53 percent of Americans who backed nuptials for gays and lesbians in a 2011 survey. Gallup noted that the 2012 poll is only the second time that a majority of Americans who had been asked about marriage supported the right of same-sex couples to tie the knot.

The poll comes against the backdrop of Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s endorsements of marriage for same-sex couples. The White House continues to insist that their comments remain consistent with President Barack Obama’s stance on the issue, but LGBT activists have grown increasingly critical of his failure to publicly support nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Gallup released their survey’s results on the same day that North Carolina voters will consider a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

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