May 9, 2012
By Jacob Combs and Scottie Thomaston
In an interview with ABC News, President Barack Obama has officially endorsed marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans. P8TT will have more on this breaking story as it develops.
ABC News’s Rick Klein has the full article here. Some choice quotations:
“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.“
Obama acknowledged that his decision was influenced by his friends, his daughters, and his wife, Michelle:
“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational. 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, 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.”
“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she [Michelle], you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”
ABC News: Obama: ‘Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legal‘
UPDATE 7: The Huffington Post has more on how this decision came about:
The plan had been to announce his position before the Democratic National Convention. But after Vice President Joseph Biden declare his support for marriage equality on Sunday, the issue touched off a political firestorm and the timeframe for Obama’s announcement was expedited.
Those top officials, speaking on condition that they not be named or quoted, said that the president was agitated about Biden’s appearance NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Instead, he decided that he had to make his position known sooner rather than later. The administration had knowledge of Biden’s remarks after he taped his interview last Friday. By Tuesday morning, aides began putting a plan in motion.
He had been moved, they said, by a fundraising trip he had made to New York shortly after that state legalized gay marriage, during which he thought to himself how he would have voted on the issue as a state legislator. He also marveled at the fact that his daughters, who had friends with gay parents, could never conceive of gay marriage being controversial.
UPDATE 6: In another clip, President Obama associates his new position on marriage equality with his “faith” and references “the golden rule.” He also says First Lady Michelle Obama shares the belief that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry.
UPDATE 5: Mitt Romney responds live on TV: “I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
“States can make decisions on domestic partnerships.”
“This is my position, others may have a different view.”
4:45PM CT Think Progress is now up, agreeing it was a timid response.
UPDATE 4: Shep Smith on Fox News calls out GOP on marriage:
“I am curious whether you believe in this time of rising debt and medical issues and all the rest, if Republicans would go out on a limb and try to make this a campaign issue while sitting very firmly without much question on the wrong side of history,” he asked reporter Ed Henry.
UPDATE 3: An interesting take: Brian Stelter, media reporter for The New York Times, asks why Obama chose ABC.
UPDATE 2: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who advocated for marriage equality in New York state last year, reacts:
“No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people – and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”
“The march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776 continues, and no matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion. Today’s announcement is a testament to the President’s convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching all the way back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.”
New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand also issued a statement:
“The president’s unequivocal support today in favor of all committed couples to marry the person they love is a watershed moment in American history that will provide the leadership needed to finally repeal DOMA and win the unfinished fight for equality for all Americans.”
UPDATE 1: LGBT groups respond to Obama’s announcement:
Incoming Human Rights Campaign 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.”
Current HRC President Joe Solmonese:
“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 has travelled a road that many Americans have travelled 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.”