“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.”
Here’s the video:
We’ve posted a full story here.
And below are some of the initial reactions to Obama’s announcement:
HRC President Joe Solmonese:
“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.”
Incoming HRC President Chad Griffin:
“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.”
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey:
“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.”
Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper:
“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous. Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry:
“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.
“The President’s support marks a historic turning point for the 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. It is time to repeal discriminatory laws that hurt families and help no one and speed passage of freedom to marry laws throughout the country.
“Government has no business putting obstacles in the path of loving and committed couples and their families who simply seek to care for one another and for whom marriage matters. We call on the President, members of Congress, and state legislators from both sides of the aisle, to act together to bring an end to marriage discrimination and put government at every level on the side of families, fairness, and freedom. ”
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick:
“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.”
Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis:
“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.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:
“This is a great day for gay and lesbian service members, who are living with the daily reality that while they are now be 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.”