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Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, said Monday that gay marriage should not be left up to each individual state, the position President Obama articulated last week.

“If we consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don’t think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach. I think we should have a national policy on this,” he said on MSNBC’s the Daily Rundown.

The statement by Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, goes well beyond what Obama said in backing gay marriage last week. The president said states should still make marriage law and declared his support of gay unions a personal matter that would not affect state policies on the issue.

It’s not clear exactly how Clyburn would actually make gay marriage a national right. He did not call for Congress to legalize gay marriage nationally, a move that would be very politically difficult with the Republican-controlled House unlikely to pass such a law.

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