On May 9, on national television, in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, President Barack Obama, who had said earlier that his views on same-sex marriage were evolving, firmly declared his support, saying, “Same-sex couples should be able to get married,” several days after Vice-President Joseph Biden had publicly affirmed his support.
Paraphrasing his remarks in the televised interview, in an email to supporters on the Obama for America mailing list, Obama said, “Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer: I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.”
The President continued, “I've always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.
“But over the course of several years I've talked to friends and family about this. I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together. Through our efforts to end the ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ policy, I've gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction.
“What I've come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens.
“Even at my own dinner table, when I look at Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, I know it wouldn't dawn on them that their friends' parents should be treated differently.
“So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
“I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.”
Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart wrote, in an email to members, “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.
“In his statement, the President spoke candidly about how he had moved from his belief that civil unions alone were sufficient to protect same-sex couples to his understanding, now, that loving same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry …
“There is no bully pulpit bigger than the President’s, and loving, committed same-sex couples across the country thank him for using it to speak up for justice and fairness. 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 are confident that in the coming months voters in a variety of states will agree with the President as they vote on the issue of marriage equality.”
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey commented, “[T]oday President Obama did the right thing, and the fair thing, by becoming the first sitting president to explicity support marriage for same-sex couples.
“This is a milestone for the LGBT community and for our country. Millions of families now know their country's leader believes in fairness for all.
“We applaud the president for taking this step in an extremely charged climate …”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solomonese weighed in with, “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.”
Courage Campaign Chair and Founder Rick Jacobs added, “This day will go down in history as the beginning of the end of legalized discrimination against LGBT people in America.”
Empire State Pride Agenda Interim Executive Director Lynn Faria said, “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.
“ … [W]e welcome President Obama's voice to the chorus of supporters who believe that same-sex couples should have the ability to marry in their home state and have that marriage recognized by our federal government.
“President Obama is the first sitting United States president to support marriage. Clearly, the will of the people—here in New York and across America—is being heard.”