Obama first president to support marriage equality
His “evolution” concludes
In a sit down Wednesday with ABC’s Robin Roberts, President Obama ended his “evolution” around same-sex marriage and stated his support for marriage equality.
Excerpts of the interview were released Wednesday at 3 p.m. The full interview will be aired on ABC’s Good Morning American and World News with Diane Sawyer.
Obama told Roberts:
"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,”
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Speculation about the President’s stance on marriage equality reached a fever pitch this week after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with allowing same-sex couples to wed. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan have all said they support same-sex marriage.
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini issued the following statement in response to the president’s remarks:
“As the first state to secure marriage equality for generations to come, we in Massachusetts are thrilled by the President’s announcement. It’s hard to imagine anything more significant to the marriage equality movement than the most powerful leader in the world declaring his support for the right to marry for all Americans. It’s a powerful affirmation before the country and world of the basic human dignity of same-sex couples and their families.
“The President’s evolution on marriage equality is not unlike the experience of the majority of Americans who have come to understand why marriage is so important to loving same-sex couples and their children. Listening, learning, growing, and changing is the American way, but it takes courage and leadership. We applaud President Obama for showing both today.
“We can’t help but note the irony of the President’s statement coming just one day after voters in North Carolina approved an amendment to the North Carolina state constitution that denies any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Despite this setback, today marks another step forward in the unmistakable trend toward public acceptance and embrace of marriage equality. At least seven national polls have found majority support among Americans for marriage equality. These polls, and major advances on marriage equality this year in Washington and Maryland, show that the day is fast approaching when we will finally put the politics of discrimination around marriage equality behind us.
“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.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement “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.”