WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The second-ranking Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer, has announced his support for gay marriage, saying making it legal “is the right thing to do.”

Hoyer, of Maryland, issued a statement Thursday in response to President Barack Obama’s announcement a day earlier that he favors same-sex marriage.

Hoyer says that, like Obama, he has long felt that civil unions were appropriate for gay and lesbian couples. He says he now believes that in order for same-sex couples to be treated equally under the law, the definition of marriage should be extended to include two people regardless of gender.

“Because I believe that equal treatment is a central tenet of our nation, I believe that extending the definition of marriage to committed relationships between two people, irrespective of their sex, is the right thing to do and will not, in any way, undermine the institution of marriage so important to our society nor impose a threat to any individual marriage,” the House minority whip stated. “It will, however, extend the respect due to every one of our fellow citizens that we would want for ourselves and our children.”

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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