Australian marriage equality advocates have welcomed US president Barack Obama’s support for marriage equality, saying it puts further pressure on Australia’s national leaders to do the same.

“If Barack Obama can support marriage equality in an election year, in a country where support for the issue is lower than in Australia, then our national leaders have no excuses,” Australian Marriage Equality campaign director Rodney Croome said.

“Australia is lagging behind other comparable countries and it’s time for our national leaders to catch up to their counterparts overseas.”

Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott personally oppose same-sex marriage.

Obama joins UK Conservative prime minister David Cameron as a supporter of marriage equality.

“What’s notable about Mr Obama’s support is that his mind has been changed by the everyday experience of same-sex partners and their families at his daughters’ school and in military service,” Croome said.

“We call on Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to also open their minds to the everyday experience of same-sex couples who share the same love, commitment, joys and sacrifices as other couples.”

Asked about President Obama’s change of heart this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would not comment on the US election and would be taking her position of opposing gay marriage into Parliament.

“I know President Obama has made that statement,” Gillard told ABC radio station 774.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to view it myself. I’ve seen the reports of it, but no, my view hasn’t changed and when a bill comes to the parliament later this year… I won’t vote for it.”

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