President Barack Obama explained his gay marriage stance during an appearance Monday on ABC's The View.

Seated on the show's couch, Barbara Walters asked Obama whether he would seek federal legislation granting gay people equal rights.

“Well keep in mind that, on issues like Social Security for example, a lot of this has to do with what is called the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA. It was passed originally when Hawaii started making noises about recognizing same-sex marriage. The idea was we don't want that drifting in to the federal government. And this is part of the reason my justice department has said to the courts, 'We don't think the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.'”

Obama explained that he decided to embrace marriage over civil unions partly over federal benefits currently denied to gay couples.

“Part of it was also though just knowing friends and family, people that I had gotten to know, who had these wonderful relationships and they'd say to me, 'You know what, the words matter. So even though you're a strong supporter of civil unions, somehow it still says we're different.'” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)