In an ABC News interview today, President Obama described his personal evolution on marriage equality and affirmed his belief that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry.
President Obama said:
"I'd hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient . . . 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."
For all of us whose long-standing mission is to work towards full civil marriage equality, the President's recognition that American families headed by same-sex couples deserve equal treatment under the law is wonderful news. We celebrate the President's affirmation that same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.
Because same-sex couples, including legally-married same-sex Vermont couples, will continue to face discrimination as long as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) stands, Vermont Freedom to Marry will carry on our work for its repeal. Until all married couples have equal federal recognition, families headed by same-sex couples will face legal and financial hardships.
We still have a lot of work to do until same-sex couples and their families share all the same federal benefits and protections that other married couples take for granted, but it is a significant step forward when the highest office in the nation firmly recognizes the equal humanity of all American families.
While there will be setbacks on the road to full equality, we also see continuing proof that the tide is changing towards justice as more and more people, including the President, are willing to stand on the right side of history.
As Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, an independent, said aptly put it:
“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.”