Reaction has come quickly from LGBT groups and gay allies in support of President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday supporting gay marriage:
WASHINGTON – President Obama said this afternoon in an interview with ABC News that he believes that the freedom to marry should be extended to same sex couples.
Until now, the president has only favored civil unions, although he had said his views on same-sex marriage were “constantly evolving.” While in office, President Obama and his administration have taken critical strides toward LGBT equality by refusing to defend the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act in court and pushing Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and reaffirming support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“President Obama is doing the right thing and showing leadership by recognizing that lesbians and gays should be treated as equal citizens,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. “The freedom to marry whomever we love and want to share our life with is fundamental to who we are and what we stand for as a country. The fight for fairness and equal treatment under the law for all Americans took a critical step forward today.”
Today, President Obama added his voice to the growing chorus of Americans who believe that all couples should share equally in the freedom to marry. He now becomes the first sitting President to join the majority of Americans whose hearts have opened and minds have changed in favor of the freedom to marry.
Like so many others who have made this journey - from Bill Clinton to Laura Bush, most recently Vice President Biden, and a majority of the American people - President Obama has come to know loving and committed gay couples. Through thought and conversation about these families and their dreams and challenges, President Obama has reflected on his own values of fairness and respect for others, and completed his journey to support for the freedom to marry.
Whether signing our "I Do" petitions, joining us in on-the-ground battles, or having your own conversations with people you persuade, you've been part of Freedom to Marry's campaign as we have led this work nationwide. On this historic day, please make a contribution so together we can build on this powerful momentum:
At Freedom to Marry we know--as the President and Vice President have just described--that it's the power of our conversations about why marriage matters that changes hearts and minds. Through our hard work, determination and persuasive conversations, we have won the freedom to marry in six states and the District of Columbia, with states like California, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and others on the horizon - if we do our work with urgency and persuasion.
The President's announcement of support today marks a historic turning point for our freedom to marry movement.
Yet there is much left to be done. Forty-four states continue to exclude same-sex couples from marriage and because of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the civil marriages of thousands of same-sex couples are not respected by the federal government, thus depriving families of a crucial safety-net of federal protections and responsibilities.
Remember this moment.
Minutes ago Barack Obama became the first American president to say he supports giving loving, committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry. I want to congratulate the president for this bold and welcome move.
This is a watershed moment for the LGBT civil rights movement, but it's also a call to action. A president's vocal support for our community is a fantastic asset, but nothing can replace the hard work it will take to ensure we win the rights we deserve.
This year in Maryland and Washington state, marriage equality laws long sought by openly gay and lesbian state lawmakers were finally passed. Those successes came after determined efforts by coalitions of national, state and local LGBT groups, as well as tireless lobbying by the men and women whose lives would be most affected by these victories.
This year we have the opportunity to greatly expand our community's voice in government. With your support, we'll elect LGBT lawmakers who will fight for us every day.And now they will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their president as they ask their fellow Americans for the simple protections and responsibilities that come with marriage.
On this historic day, I'm glad to know you're standing with us and ready to get to work.
Yours in Victory,
In response to President Obama’s public comments in support of marriage equality, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement.
“Today’s announcement marks a proud day for our country and for the President. For those of us who have been working towards marriage equality for many years, the impact of having the support of the President of the United States is incredibly powerful. As President Obama made clear in his comments today, marriage equality for all people is an idea whose time has come. Despite setbacks like the results from North Carolina last night, it’s more obvious than ever that the momentum is on our side.
“In recent years, more and more Americans have come to understand that preventing loving same-sex couples from getting married causes real harm to the people they care about. In families and communities across the country, Americans are coming to the same conclusion as the President: when two people make a public commitment to love and care for each other, that’s a marriage no matter what the gender of the people involved.
“Today the President did the right thing. For thousands of supporters who donated, canvassed and phone banked to help elect Barack Obama in 2008, this is a powerful reminder of why we felt so passionately about this President in the first place.”
Just moments ago, President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans deserve full marriage equality.
In saying so, he reinforced what most Americans believe – LGBT people should be fully and equally part of the fabric of our society. Our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage.
President Obama's time in office has shown that our nation can move beyond its shameful history of discrimination and injustice.
Thanks to President Obama's leadership, millions of young Americans have seen that their futures will not be limited by what makes them different.
And now, in supporting marriage equality, he's extended a message of hope to a generation of young LGBT Americans, helping them understand that they too can be who they are and flourish as part of the American community.
His words also remind gay and lesbian families everywhere that they are not alone or unheard as they struggle – like their neighbors – to afford healthcare and college for their kids, pay their taxes, and plan for retirement.
The burden of discrimination will one day be no more, in part thanks to the President's leadership at this very moment.
President Obama has been a crucial ally to our cause. But it's ordinary people like you, standing up for what's right, who will continue to drive our movement forward. I thank you for your commitment, and I hope you'll continue to work for the day when all are equal.
"When people have a chance to think deeply about marriage equality, they come to the right answer - that discrimination against our families is wrong. We thank the President for saying clearly what we know to be true - same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry."
(New York, May 9, 2012) Lambda Legal Executive Director, Kevin Cathcart issued the following statement:
"We welcome the news that President Obama understands the importance of equality for all people in this country and we are excited that he joins the majority of Americans in supporting the freedom to marry.
"There is no bully pulpit bigger than the President's, and loving, committed same-sex couples across the country - and all of us - thank him for using it to speak up for justice and fairness. The momentum for marriage equality is building across the country. When people have a chance to think deeply about marriage equality, they come to the right answer - that discrimination against our families is wrong.
"There's so much more work to be done. Right now, Lambda Legal is fighting in the courts for marriage equality in New Jersey and Nevada. There will be more fights at the ballot in November.
"In my thirty years working in the LGBT movement, it has become easier to recognize watershed moments - and this is one. And we know we're winning because these watershed moments are beginning to happen closer together."
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance welcomes President Obama to the majority of Americans who endorse marriage equality.
While watching his "evolution" on this question over the last many months has been painful and vexing, his announcement today is nonetheless a happy event.
Civil acceptance and full status for gay and lesbian couples who choose to marry is a basic human right that has been denied for too long. Sooner would have been desirable, but the President is now on the right train -- Welcome Aboard!
Marriage equality along with sexual freedom are fundamental human rights.
New York, NY, May 9, 2012 - GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today responded to President Barack Obama's historic announcement in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.
"The arc of history today bent a little closer to equality for every American," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "After hearing the stories of countless couples and families, President Obama has drawn the same conclusion shared across party lines and by a majority of Americans today: everyone deserves the opportunity to marry the person they love. As our nation draws closer to a more perfect union in which every person is created equal, we are left deeply encouraged by this truly watershed moment."
In an interview with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts today, President Obama stated:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point 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."
President Obama's landmark announcement comes just days after Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's Meet the Press that he was ‘absolutely comfortable' with equal marriage protections for gay and lesbian couples, and just hours after voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment known as Amendment One that will change the state's constitution to recognize only married straight couples; bans civil unions; and eliminates health care, prescription drug coverage and other benefits for public employees and children receiving domestic partner benefits. In a written statement on Tuesday, the president said he was "disappointed" in the passage of the amendment.
Other recent polls that reflect growing support of marriage equality include:
- A Quinnipiac University poll found that 59% of respondents oppose federal legislation that denies eligibility for federal benefits to gay and lesbian spouses.
- A Public Religion Research Institute poll that found 51% support legal marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
- An ABC News and Washington Post poll that found 51% of respondents said they thought marriage equality should be legal, a 17 percentage-point increase from the 2006 polling results.
- A CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation poll that showed 51% of respondents were in favor of legal recognition for marriages for gay and lesbian couples.
In an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, President Obama expressed his clear support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director, Jerame Davis, issued the following statement:
"We applaud the President for completing his 'evolution' in support of the freedom to marry and becoming the first sitting president ever to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples. The President joins a long and growing list of Democrats who support the freedom to marry. On days like today, I am proud to be a Democrat.
"The President's endorsement of the freedom to marry stands in stark contrast to the position of Mitt Romney. Romney, who signed the National Organization for Marriage's hateful anti-LGBT pledge, opposes marriage equality and supports a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage between same-sex couples. No longer can GOP homophobes like Romney hide behind the pretense that they share President Obama's position on the freedom to marry.
"Though many have been waiting for this day to arrive, our fight is not complete. Election day is 180 days from today and we have to redouble our efforts and prove that the President's support of marriage will not cost him at the ballot box. National Stonewall Democrats stands will be fighting every day from now until November to ensure it doesn't."
SEIU, Service Employees International Union:
WASHINGTON, DC – Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement after President Obama announced his support for marriage equality:
"Earlier today, President Obama joined a host of faith, civil rights, business and political leaders that have publicly voiced their support of marriage equality. The president’s support comes at a critical moment as the rights of LGBT people are under legislative attack in Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina and elsewhere. The president understands what we do – marriage equality is about family, community, love and justice.
“Across this country, right-wing Republican politicians are seeking to divide us with attacks on immigrants, the middle class, women’s health, the environment and the LGBT community - but the growing numbers of Americans who believe in marriage equality reminds us that we cannot live up to our promise as a nation until we extend equal rights to all.
“To those who have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, we say this: There is growing momentum for equality in this country. And with each American that believes in equality, we are reminded that the continued dream of equality is our birthright, our heritage and our promise.
“For anyone who counts equality among the basic tenets of a free and just America, Pres. Obama's announcement today is a victory."
WASHINGTON, May 9 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responds to President Obama’s history-making comments today supporting marriage for same-sex couples. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been urging the president to join the millions of Americans who already support marriage equality.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
“President Obama’s ‘evolution’ is now complete. Congratulations, Mr. President, for making history today by becoming the first sitting president to explicitly support marriage for same-sex couples. Who benefits? Millions of families who now know that their country’s leader believes in fairness for all. This is a great day for America.
“We celebrate this moment and also remember that the right of loving, committed couples to get married is just one of many issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It is heartening to know the president stands with our families in the pursuit of full equality, economic security and justice.”
New York/San Francisco • 09 May 2012 ― Marriage Equality USA thanks our President, Barack Obama, for his statement today in support of the right of same-sex couples to enter into civil marriage equality. People are thrilled. People are relieved. It is natural for Americans to want to be acknowledged, validated, included and affirmed by our country’s leadership. It is natural for Americans to want their country’s leader to take a firm stand on the side of fairness. As LGBTIQ Americans, their families and friends listened to the president speak today, some of the sting was alleviated from last night’s loss in North Carolina and the outrageous postponement of approving civil unions in Colorado.
"Our President has affirmed today that he is the President for all Americans, including loving, committed same-sex couples like me and John,” said Stuart Gaffney, MEUSA Media Director. “We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, and we couldn't have asked for a better anniversary gift than to have the President of the United States come out in favor of the freedom to marry."
"I applaud President Obama's decision today to join the chorus of a majority of Americans who believe that honoring the love, respect and rights of all families is important,” said Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director. “While the road ahead still requires our hard work, the president’s statement is a welcome boost to move our country one step closer to civil marriage equality."
John Lewis, MEUSA Legal Director, added, "I am thrilled that the dream of marriage equality is now so much closer, thanks to the President's decisive leadership. Marriage is about love and commitment, and the President looked at this decision with his heart -- not as a political calculation -- and decided to stand on the side of love. In standing on the side of love, he also decided to stand on the right side of history."
We recommit ourselves today to the movement towards full equality for all LGBTIQ Americans and their families. Marriage Equality USA is prepared to move forward in this struggle at the national, state and local community levels.
“This is an historic day. In taking a stand in support of marriage equality, the President is in step with the growing majority of people across the country that supports equality and fairness under the law. He, along with millions of Americans, has come to understand that gay couples want to marry because they love each other and because marriage provides the best legal means of taking care of each other and our children. The day is coming when anti-gay marriage laws will meet the same fate as laws banning interracial marriage. The President's support today moves us closer to the day when all Americans will be able to enjoy full marriage equality."
The announcement comes at a time when a Gallup poll released just yesterday shows that half of Americans support same-sex marriage. This marks only the second time in Gallup's history of tracking this question that at least half of Americans have supported legal same-sex marriage.