US President Barack Obama has announced his support for measures in three US states, which would make equal marriage legal.

President Obama announced his general support for equal marriage back in May, but this is the first time that he has endorsed any measure in specific states, reported the Associated Press.

Paul Bell, the Washington press secretary for Obama’s campaign released a statement:

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,”

“Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the president supports a vote to approve Referendum 74,” Bell said.

Ed Murray, an openly gay Washington state senator thanked President Obama in a statement which said:

“When I first began fighting in the legislature for marriage equality … I would never have dared to dream that a president of the United States would one day step forward at this crucial moment, in the middle of his own close re-election campaign, to offer his support for our efforts,”

“But that is exactly what President Obama done, and it is an example of his courage and leadership.”

Senator Murray said he was looking forward to being able to wed his partner of 21 years, and he thanked the president for “bringing that dream a little closer to reality.”

Chip White of Preserve Marriage Washington, a group opposed to the equal marriage, said he was not surprised by the president’s announcement:

“Until May of this year, the president’s position was that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” said Mr White.

“No one called him a bigot or said he was unfair for holding that position. And Washingtonians who believe in the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman are not bigots.”

In a May interview with ABC News, President Obama confirmed that he thought gay couples should have the same legal right to marry as heterosexual couples. 

Maine, Washington and Maryland states will all be voting on marriage equality on 6 November.

Also on 6 November, voters in Minnesota will choose whether to make a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman.