A spokesman for Barack Obama says that the president has encouraged politicians in his home state to change the law to make marriage equal.

State Representative Greg Harris and Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Mr Obama’s home city of Chicago hope to answer Governor Pat Quinn’s wish that he can sign into law equal marriage as early as January.

“While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said.

“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally,” Mr Inouye added.

In May, Mr Obama said that his views have ‘evolved’ over the past few years, based on conversations with staff members, gay and lesbian service members, and people in his own family.
He told ABC News at the time: “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.”

When he was named Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’, Mr Obama said: “One of the things that I’m very proud of during my first four years is I think I’ve helped to solidify this incredibly rapid transformation in people’s attitudes around LGBT issues — how we think about gays and lesbians and transgender persons.”

At Christmas, a group of 250 rabbis, pastors, bishops and other leaders representing liberal and reform Christian and Jewish groups have called on the state of Illinois to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act that would make same-sex marriage legal.