Reactions to President Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality
Yesterday, in an interview with ABC News, President Obama articulated his support for marriage equality, saying “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
In the last 24 hours, we have received countless statements of support from individuals and organizations across the country, including labor unions, environmental groups, social justice and civil rights advocates, and organizations advocating for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Here are some of those statements:
“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality.
“LGBT working people face numerous inequities in the workplace and in society as they struggle to care for their families. Civil unions do not guarantee the 1,138 rights, benefits and responsibilities that are triggered by the word "marriage” under federal law.
“Most important, we should respect and honor our friends, neighbors, and family members who want to take care of their families and their loved ones – whatever their sexual orientation. We are proud to come together for a more just America.”
“President Obama’s announcement today recognizes a fundamental American right – that every citizen is entitled to respect and dignity, and the equal protection of our laws. For too long, lesbian and gay Americans have been denied the right to marry the person they love, raise a family and live as equal citizens in our country. They are denied access to pension benefits, Social Security survivor benefits, family health and bereavement leave and family immigration rights. That discrimination harms all of us, not just LGBT Americans. We have an obligation to work to overturn unjust laws and amendments to state constitutions that codify prejudice and promote discrimination against fellow citizens. The President deserves praise for recognizing that this issue is about equality under the law and the right of all Americans to live their lives free from discrimination.”
“President Obama is doing the right thing and showing leadership by recognizing that lesbians and gays should be treated as equal citizens. 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.”
“America's greatness has been based in large part on our continual journey toward equality. President Obama's action today on marriage equality continues that journey. I am proud to lead an organization that has, from our founding, stood firm against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation. The fight for civil rights not only in the workforce but also in every aspect of American life, is ongoing. Every American is entitled to equal shares of equality, liberty and happiness.”
“President Obama’s words today will be celebrated by generations to come. For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, President Obama’s words provide genuine hope that they will be the first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream. Marriage—the promise of love, companionship, and family—is basic to the pursuit of that dream. Our Constitution’s promise, the promise of liberty, is one that every generation must realize. As President Obama recognized today, the fight to secure marriage equality is the defining element of our generation’s search for greater freedom.”
“We strongly welcome the President’s endorsement of same-sex marriage equality. It is a significant and historic step forward in the pursuit of equal opportunity, individual liberty and freedom from discrimination, and underscores the fact that no American should be denied access to the benefits of civil marriage because of his or her sexual orientation. All citizens should be entitled to the same rights, protections and benefits.”
“We applaud the president's decision as it is another large step toward realizing this country's promise of equality. Indeed, President Obama today helped bend the arc of history toward justice. And his stance will be remembered as such.”
“President Obama made history today when he came out in full support of marriage rights for gay couples. Many Americans have thought about this issue and, like the president, have reconsidered their feelings about it. His journey is our journey.”
“The Communications Workers of America stands with the President and those who support equality and human rights. We oppose all discrimination and recognize the direct linkage between civil and workers’ rights, and the attempts to divide Americans based on these issues.
Nearly ten years ago, CWA convention delegates called for full and equal rights including civil marriage, pointing out that far too many benefits and protections of civil marriage are denied to people on the basis of sexual orientation. These often include health care and survivor benefits as well as other legal rights for partners. It’s time to move forward. “
“We are thrilled by President Obama's declaration of support for marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The President now joins the majority of New Yorkers and Americans who believe that all committed and loving couples should have the opportunity to enjoy the protections that marriage offers to them and their families.”
The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, XV Bishop of New York:
“I welcome President Obama’s expression of support for marriage equality for gay and lesbian people. Given that equality before the law is a fundamental principle of our republic, it seems to me that our President has reached an eminently appropriate conclusion.”
The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Bishop Coadjutor of New York:
“I heartily join Bishop Sisk in commending President Obama for his public statement supporting the legality of marriage for gay and lesbian couples. There is a clear and growing majority in America which believes that marriage equality is fair and just, and that it is a moral imperative for a country founded on principles of the equality of all people. We in New York can justly take pride that our state has been a pioneer in providing this equality under the law, and in the Diocese of New York we rejoice with all those who have found, in these new freedoms, the public validation of loving relationships that in many cases represent decades of shared joys and sacrifices.”
The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of New York:
“I, too, heartily endorse the initiative and action of President Obama in affirming the appropriateness of marriage between persons of the same sex, and I wish to “second” the reasoning so clearly enunciated by Bishop Sisk and Bishop Dietsche.”
“This is a watershed moment for marriage equality - the discussion will never be the same. The President has taken a courageous position that will go down in history as the moment when the tide changed. The American public is moving rapidly in the direction of supporting marriage equality and the President, along with the others in his Administration, is taking his rightful place as a leader on this issue.”
“This is a historic day for families everywhere… His support for our fundamental equality cannot be overstated.”
“We have long understood, deep in our hearts, that love makes a family, but there is no disputing that marriage strengthens it. For more than 30 years, a generation of parents has focused on raising their children to love their country, support their friends and neighbors and treat all people with respect. They have given these values to their children, but have been unable to provide them with simple legal and economic protections that other married couples count on for their kids.”
We hope everyone who felt that somehow being a person of faith conflicts with being an advocate for equality will take to heart the words of President Obama and find the courage to pray and reflect on the meaning of believing in a God who is defined as love. As a network of primarily African American churches that support same-gender-loving people and their families, we know the importance of equality before the law.
“Today, President Obama added his voice to the growing chorus of Americans who believe that all loving and committed couples should share equally in 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. 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.
“President Obama has traveled a road that many Americans have traveled in recent years. Gay and lesbian couples have the same love and make the same commitment as all couples, and deserve the same recognition as full citizens. Our country’s history is one of expanding the circle of constitutional rights and protections to include more citizens, and our nation is always the better for it.”
“The arc of history today bent a little closer to equality for every American. 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.”
We will not give up until Marriage Equality is the law, not only in North Carolina, but all across the United States and even the globe. President Obama’s evolution in thought and his courage in sharing his convictions give us all hope for the kind of changes globally that will guarantee freedom and equality for everyone. It is this conviction that gives us hope for a future where the world will live in peace with its God-given diversity.
“Hadassah commends President Obama for taking an important step today in showing his commitment to and respect for the LGBT community. Hadassah has long supported LGBT rights, and we firmly believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans are treated equally and have equal access to the same rights. Hadassah is committed to the preservation of rights for all people and vigorously condemns discrimination of any kind. As Zionists, Hadassah members understand the dangers of bigotry. …
“We look forward to continuing to work with the President as he expands civil rights for all Americans.”
“The HNBA expresses its gratitude to President Obama for taking a public stance on this civil rights issue that is so important to our community. In this day and age, it is no longer acceptable for a nation as great as ours to deprive a group of its citizens of a fundamental right, and the HNBA stands firmly with the President and all supporters of marriage equality.”
“Today, President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society and that our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage.
“His presidency has shown that our nation can move beyond its shameful history of discrimination and injustice. In him, millions of young Americans have seen that their futures will not be limited by what makes them different. In supporting marriage equality, President Obama extends that message of hope to a generation of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, helping them understand that they too can be who they are and flourish as part of the American community. And his words remind gay and lesbian families across the country, who, like their neighbors, struggle to afford healthcare and college for their kids, pay their taxes and plan for retirement –but with the added burden of discrimination— that they do not face those challenges alone and unheard.
“Americans fundamentally believe in fairness, but many, like the President, have struggled to reconcile that core belief and the question of marriage equality. The President’s words will no doubt inspire thousands more conversations around kitchen tables and in church pews. We are confident that our nation will continue to move inexorably toward equality and we thank the President for so boldly leading us in that direction.”
“President Obama’s affirmation of the right to same gender marriage today is an important and historic moment in the life of the nation. His statement shows that he understands his role is to protect Constitutional principles over sectarian ideology.”
“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.”
We are so proud of President Obama. He listened to committed couples; he listened to his daughters whose friends have same gender parents and he listened to the message of love in the Bible. He understands that two-tiered systems are never equal and affirmed his support for marriage for all loving couples. Through the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, President Obama heard faith leaders support marriage equality. He knows that pastors in the Metropolitan Community Churches around the world have performed thousands of marriages for loving same-gender couples for over forty years.
“Across this country, people are reaching the conclusion that it is wrong to make it illegal to marry the person you love… This is a positive development in America’s conversation on what marriage means and how the freedom to marry is intrinsic in our nation’s dedication to the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“This fall, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for some couples. For months, we’ve been having a conversation about what marriage means to us, and that conversation is happening in every part of our state. We know limiting that freedom is not in our state’s strong tradition of practicing the golden rule, of rejecting too much intrusion into our personal lives, and of not mixing religion and politics. There is not a bone in my conservative body that tells me that we should limit the freedom to marry for committed, same-sex couples.
“As support for defeating this amendment grows across this state, I am as confident as ever that Minnesotans will defeat this freedom-limiting Amendment in November. President Obama’s announcement today is a welcome development in this ongoing conversation.”
“This is a giant step forward for civil rights, as the President openly acknowledged support for same-sex marriage. With this support, President Obama has liberated Americans who previously felt relegated to the shadows. It is our hope that this is a positive step toward helping all individuals in America feel included and that this level of compassion will set the tone for upcoming civil rights issues in the country, especially with regards to the immigration debate.”
“It is an honor to witness our President take such a strong stand in support of gay and lesbian couples across the country. This affirmation reinforces the Administration’s ongoing commitment to LGBT Americans and our families.”
“President Obama has once again proven himself to be the strongest and most principled supporter of full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people ever to occupy the Oval Office. As he has done on so many other issues facing our community, the President showed his great depth of compassion and respect for the struggles faced by same-sex couples and their families and his commitment to genuine equality and justice for all people. This is an unforgettable day in our nation's history, and one that will bring enormous comfort and hope to millions of Americans.”
“NCJW hails President Obama’s decision to express his personal support for same-sex marriage. NCJW has been a staunch supporter of marriage equality and we happily welcome the president to this fight for fundamental human rights at this important time. While setbacks such as the lamentable vote yesterday in North Carolina are unfortunate, we firmly believe that supporters of marriage equality are on the right side of history. NCJW is proud to work with the President of the United States to ensure that gays and lesbians are protected equally under the law and are treated with the dignity they deserve.”
“NCLR applauds President Obama for his historic remarks expressing support for marriage equality. This issue is about doing the right thing and being on the right side of history. Ensuring fairness and equality while protecting people from discrimination is at the heart of NCLR's mission.”
“Like other Americans, Latinos have shifted their views on LGBT issues in recent years. Acceptance and support for loving couples to have the right to marry is now shared by a majority of Latinos.
“We celebrate this historic moment with our allies in the LGBT community and with the millions of LGBT Latinos across the nation, and we look forward to working together to advance equal rights for all in the days ahead.”
“It is historic and groundbreaking for the President of the United States to state that committed LGBT couples deserve the right to marry. Along with equal access to employment, marriage equality is fundamental to the health and well being of all Americans. This is another important step in the movement towards progress and equality for our community.”
“Today, we thank our President for acknowledging that we deserve the full benefits of citizenship, including marriage. We are grateful for his leadership and courage on this issue. Those of us in military service are always conscious of the tremendous sacrifices that our partners make to support us, and we look forward to the day when that will be reflected in the support that our country gives them.”
“Today, history was made. President Barack Obama took an historic step as the first American president in office to recognize the importance of the freedom to marry for ALL couples. He joins a majority of Americans who believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to create a loving, lasting and legal partnership—marriage—with the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation.
“The President now understands what PFLAG has said for 40 years: that there is power in sharing personal stories and that, when we do, hearts and minds can truly change as we realize our shared values of love and commitment. He has sent an important message to LGBT people, their parents, families, friends, and allies: that they are accepted for all that they are, that their enduring, loving relationships are the same as all others.
“For all of us at PFLAG who believe in the power of love and acceptance, the message the president sends to our LGBT children is loud and clear: You are loved. You are accepted. You are equal.
“We thank President Obama and welcome him to the PFLAG family.”
“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.”
“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.”
"This is a great day for gay and lesbian service members, who are living with the daily reality that while they are now able to serve openly, they and their families are treated as second-class citizens under laws like the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Certainly, the President's leadership in repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' laid the foundation for his reaching this positive outcome. We welcome the President's support for marriage and will work with him to repeal DOMA and all laws that undermine equality and treat our service members unfairly."
"The Sierra Club applauds the courage and conviction President Barack Obama displayed today in supporting the basic human right of same sex couples to marry. Our 1.4 million members and supporters include people of every sexual orientation, and they are all as entitled to marry the person they chose as they are to the clean air, water, and beautiful landscapes they fight to protect."
“We salute the President for his announcement today in support of marriage for gay and lesbian couples. This is an historic moment for the nation for which we express our deepest appreciation to the President.”
“Today, President Barack Obama set himself apart as a role model for all Americans to support the freedom to marry, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Validating that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are fully and equally deserving of love and the commitment of marriage sends a message to vulnerable youth that they have value and can dream for the future.
“At The Trevor Project, we know that family, community and religious acceptance all play a very strong role in the safety and well-being of LGBTQ young people. Thank you, Mr. President for speaking out as an accepting ally.”
“President Obama’s announcement today that he supports the right of same sex couples to marry is a courageous step forward in the direction of justice and equality for all Americans. I applaud the President’s decision to declare his support for the freedom to marry for all loving couples. Like many Americans, President Obama says his position on this issue has evolved over the years, and today it seems clear that the arc of the universe is bending toward justice.
“The Unitarian Universalist Association called for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in 1996. Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love for marriage equality until the freedom to marry belongs to all.”
“Marriage equality is an economic justice issue, and a social justice issue – and that makes it a union issue. In the UFCW, we have a long, proud history of standing up for fair and equal treatment for all workers – regardless of what they look like, where they come from, what language they speak, or who they love. These values are heartfelt. We work every day to fight discrimination and unfair treatment against LGBT people on the job. That’s why our union is a strong supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would ensure justice in the workplace for LGBT workers. UFCW members have been negotiating equal health care coverage for same-sex couples into their union contracts all over the country for years. It’s the right thing to do, and the fair thing to do. I’m proud that the UFCW’s advocacy on behalf of families includes all families.”
Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.