New York: Unfazed by uncertain public reaction to his support for same-sex marriage, US President Barack Obama has backed his step, saying that "marriage equality" and treating everyone fairly in America is the "right thing to do."

The step is threatening to become a hot election issue and President Obama defending his backing of gay marriage said, "The basic idea - I want everybody treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody. That doesn't weaken families; that strengthens families. It's the right thing to do."

Speaking at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council yesterday at a prestigious women's college here the President said his views on marriage equality were based on the principle that people in America deserve equal respect and dignity irrespective of what their backgrounds are.

The President had last week voiced his support for same-sex marriage in an interview to ABC News, saying his position on the issue had evolved after discussions with his family and friends.

He had said his daughters have friends who have same sex parents and they do not understand why their friends' parents should be treated differently.

"And at root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together, but all of us are equal in terms of dignity and in terms of respect, and everybody deserves a shot. So part of what we've been spending a lot of time doing is just making sure that those ideals that we profess are made real," he said.

Obama added that from ensuring equal pay for equal work to fighting for an immigration reform that gives everyone a chance to build their American dream, he has stressed on the need for everybody to get a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules.

Earlier, addressing nearly 600 female graduates at Columbia University's Barnard College, Obama said he would support them in their efforts to help build an America where everyone has equal rights and chance at pursuing opportunities.

"And if you're willing to do your part now, if you're willing to reach up and close that gap between what America is and what America should be, I want you to know that I will be right there with you.

(Agencies)

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