White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday said President Barack Obama respects the views of black pastors opposed to the president's support of gay marriage.

Obama has been both praised and criticized for his May announcement in support of marriage equality.

Black leaders held dueling press conferences on Friday reflecting both sides. The Rev. Al Sharpton called on Maryland voters to uphold a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers, while the Rev. Bill Owens for the third time called on African-American voters to reject Obama in November.

(Related: Obama's gay marriage support is like waving your thing at God, Bill Owens says.)

“The president said at the time and firmly believes that people have different views on this issue, and he respects that,” Carney said in response to a question offered by gay weekly the Washington Blade. “He has made it clear that his support for the right of every American to decide who he or she loves and the right to marriage is a matter of civil marriage, and that religious institutions, churches, have their own sacraments and decide what they are. And he respects differing views on this.”