Still More Comments on Obama Evolution
More activists and elected officials around the nation have weighed in on the president's marriage equality announcement.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
“I am pleased that President Obama today took a very important step forward in his support for civil and human rights by expressing his personal support for marriage equality.
“As a lifelong civil and human rights advocate, I have always believed that civil rights are measured by a single yardstick. When the government bestows inheritance rights, tax benefits, adoption rights, child custody, power of attorney, and other privileges on married individuals -- but denies those same basic privileges to gays and lesbians -- it is a blunt and injurious denial of equality and family security.
“I believe that gays and lesbians deserve the same marriage rights and privileges as the rest of us. Anything less is an insult to the institution of the American family. President Obama’s support for marriage equality is a powerful reaffirmation of our belief in equal treatment under the law.”
Alan van Capelle, chief executive officer of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and former executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda: “Tonight when I go home and look at my 6-month-old son it will be the first time I will be able to tell him that our president believes we are a family. For many Americans, this is a political issue. For millions more, it’s deeply personal.
“I applaud President Obama for coming out in support of marriage equality. Today, he showed himself as a leader who is in step with a majority of Americans, and millions of people of faith all over this country who support the right of gay and lesbian people to marry, including 76% of American Jews.
“It is also particularly timely and gratifying in light of North Carolina’s misguided, out-of-step vote to exclude LGBT couples and families from legal recognition. On behalf of my family and millions more, thank you, Mr. President.”
Scout, director, Network for LGBT Health Equity at the Fenway Institute: “Great news, albeit he's certainly working the day late axiom.
“People may not realize how directly LGBT accepting policies affect our health. Recent research shows LGBT people in states without LGBT-protective policies were nearly five times more likely than others to have two or more mental health disorders. In the same study, when states passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, mood disorders increased by one third among community members in that state -- and they actually increased among our community members in other states as well.
“Discriminatory policies literally make us sick. Congratulations for Obama for publicly standing against such discrimination.”
Jennifer Chrisler, executive director, Family Equality Council: “This is a historic day for families everywhere. I am thrilled that the president has again demonstrated his firm commitment to the millions of taxpaying Americans who want to show their love and commitment to each other through marriage. His support for our fundamental equality cannot be overstated.
“We have long understood, deep in our hearts, that love makes a family, but there is no disputing that marriage strengthens it,” she added. “For more than 30 years, a generation of parents has focused on raising their children to love their country, support their friends and neighbors and treat all people with respect. They have given these values to their children, but have been unable to provide them with simple legal and economic protections that other married couples count on for their kids.
“The president has promised a new generation of children that their parents will be able to provide those protections and more importantly that their parents love and commitment to each other will be recognized, respected, and valued.
“President Obama has fulfilled his promise of evolving his views on marriage and history will honor his leadership on extending fairness and freedom to all Americans.”
U.S. senator Chris Coons of Delaware: “This is an important moment on the journey to equality: the first time a sitting president has endorsed the idea that every American, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to marry the person they love. Period. For some, the question of marriage equality is difficult to answer. I respect that everyone comes to a position in their own way and in their own time.
“President Obama is doing the right thing. By coming out for marriage quality today, he is sending a clear message: LGBT rights are human rights, and the right to marry the person you love is intrinsic to what it means to be an American.
“President Obama may be taking a huge political risk, but some risks are worth taking. That’s what leaders do.”
Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality: “I am overwhelmed with tears of joy, as our millions of other LGBT people and our millions of allies across America. We will remember for the rest of our lives where we were when we heard the sitting President of the United States say he supports marriage equality.
“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. 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.
“Short of when America becomes a land of marriage equality, this is the happiest day of our political lives. I'm on Cloud 18.”
Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council: “This is an amazing day, our President coming out in support of marriage equality. President Obama's declaration that marriage is a right for all people is an act of courage that will go down in history as the moment the tide changed for LGBT Americans.
“When the president of the United States validates you, your family, your friends and your loved ones by saying that yes -- you are full citizens who deserve full equal rights -- it's a truly American moment.
“Today President Obama gave hope to a new generation of LGBT youth who will grow up knowing there is nothing wrong with who they are, and that no matter how bad things may seem, the president, and the United States of America stands with them.
“Even with a recent setback in North Carolina, now that we have the support of President Obama, we have never been closer to making marriage equality a reality for everyone, everywhere then we are now.
“Today, we are on the cusp of change, and I'm enormously grateful and proud of President Obama, marriage equality advocates and everyone who has worked so hard to bring us to this moment. Thank you for all you have done, and all we will continue to do for equality.”
And a sour antigay note from Rubén Díaz Sr., a state senator in New York: “As a conservative Democrat, I am very disappointed with President Barack Obama regarding his announcement today in favor of gay marriage. It is well known that in every state where the people have had the opportunity to vote, including in North Carolina this week, the people have rejected gay marriage. Even though the polls indicate that the majority of Americans favor gay marriage, the reality is clearly very different when the people are given the right to vote on this issue.
“Thirty-one states have already expressed that sentiment in the voting booth. I am afraid that with this pronouncement, the president has hurt the Democrats’ chances of regaining the Senate and will hurt many Democratic candidates throughout the nation. I will not be surprised if in the next few days you see in the polls that Mitt Romney has surpassed Barack Obama.
“Gay marriage has been the Achilles' heel in New York State since it became law. The Democratic Party has lost every single election to Republicans, even in Democratic-controlled areas.”