President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that his long-evolving views have put him on the side of marriage equality.
“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 told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in a sit-down interview Wednesday.
The president had long stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage, saying he preferred civil unions, but more recently noted that his views on marriage equality were “constantly evolving.”
Although many LGBTs kept up pressure on the president to come out for marriage equality, some pundits predicted he would wait to do so until he had secured re-election.
Obama’s revelation came days after Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview that he was “absolutely comfortable” with the idea of same-sex marriage, re-igniting interest in the president’s evolution.
Reaction poured in from throughout the world, including from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who said he commends "President Obama for his clear and unequivocal support for equality and same-sex marriage. I deeply appreciate his courage, strength and perspective. And I’m hopeful that more and more Americans will agree with him that if two people love and care about each other, then they should be able to marry regardless of their gender.”
Chad Griffin, incoming president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Obama's announcement 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," Griffin said. "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.”
Obama said he came to his conclusion “over the course of several years,” through discussions with family, friends, LGBT staffers and servicemembers 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.”
The president’s announcement came the day after North Carolina voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was fueled by bipartisan legislative support.
Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, said the president’s pronouncement will be integral in the fight for marriage equality in states like New Jersey.
“Today’s announcement by the president is of particular importance to those of us fighting in New Jersey and everywhere else marriage equality is up for grabs,” Goldstein said. “No longer will opponents such as Gov. Chris Christie be able to take cover by saying, ‘Why are you going after me? My opposition to marriage equality is simply the same view as that of our president.’ That political cover is now thrown into dustbin of history parked outside the archives of prejudice, collecting its rhetorical trash.”