Responses to Obama's same-sex marriage announcement
May 9th, 2012
04:20 PM ET
2 years ago

Responses to Obama's same-sex marriage announcement

(CNN) – Political figures and organizations responded on Wednesday to President Barack Obama's announcement that he supports same-sex marriage.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to reporters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: "I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor, and that I've expressed many times, and that marriage is between a man an a woman.... States are able to make decisions with regard to domestic partnership benefits such as hospital visitation rights, benefits and so forth of various kinds can be determined state by state, but my view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman and that's my own preference. I know other people have differing views. This is a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues, but I have the same view that I've had since running for office.... I believe that based upon the interview that he gave today on ABC it's said that he had changed his view, but you're a better judge of that than I. I just saw the reports that he previously opposed same-sex marriage and now according to ABC news he supports it. You'll be able to make that determination on your own."

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Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum: "The announcement today by President Obama should come as no surprise to the American public. President Obama has consistently fought against protecting the institution of marriage from radical social engineering at both the state and federal level. The President recently opposed the North Carolina constitutional amendment and, of course, he refused to defend President Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme court. The charade is now over, no doubt an attempt to galvanize his core hard left supporters in advance of the November election. Thankfully the American public, when it has had an opportunity to consider the real world consequences of such a fundamental change to our society, has consistently voted for maintaining one man one woman marriage – the basic building block of our society. I will continue to fight to make sure that the cultural elites don't further undermine the institution that gives the best opportunity for healthy, happy children and a just and prosperous society."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. But in a civil society, I believe that people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it's no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married. The idea that allowing two loving, committed people to marry would have any impact on my life, or on my family's life, always struck me as absurd. In talking with my children and grandchildren, it has become clear to me they take marriage equality as a given. I have no doubt that their view will carry the future. I handled a fair amount of domestic relations work when I was a practicing lawyer, and it was all governed by state law. I believe that is the proper place for this issue to be decided as well."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: "Today marks progress for the civil rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans. With President Obama's support, we look forward to the day when all American families are treated equally in the eyes of the law. Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history. Just yesterday, a Republican-backed amendment to ban same-sex marriage passed in North Carolina. Here in the House, Republican leaders refuse to bring up a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes critical domestic violence protections for the LGBT community, and they are using taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act in court. These actions only serve to advance fundamental unfairness in our society. Throughout American history, we have worked to live up to our values of liberty and freedom, and to end discrimination in all of its forms. Today, we took another step forward in our march toward equality."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah: "I'm glad the President finally laid out his position to the American people, but changing the definition of marriage is not something I can support. The sanctity of marriage is not to be taken lightly. Sanctioned by God, this sacred union between a man and a woman must be respected, preserved, and fostered as the foundation for healthy and prosperous families and communities."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa: "I support traditional marriage. I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton. It defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and prevents states from being forced to honor the decisions of other state courts. I also voted twice in 2006, in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor, for a joint resolution that would have amended the federal Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The President's announcement today and his flip-flopping on the issue aren't surprising given the White House being entirely focused on political advantage for the November election right now and the demands of the President's political base and supporters. However, the majority of voters in every state who've had a chance to have their say with a referendum on same-sex marriage have voted against it. In Iowa, voters responded to the state Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage by ousting the justices. There also doesn't seem to be support for the President's position in the Senate since the Democratic majority hasn't brought up the issue for a vote, and you have to assume the leaders would if the votes were there."

Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, asked by CNN Congressional Correspondent Kate Bolduan for his reaction: "I thought he already did. That's what Joe Biden said. So he now agrees with his vice president." Asked "So, what's your reaction?" Rubio said: "I've disagreed with him on that position. I agreed with the old Barack Obama."

Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon: "I applaud President Obama for voicing his support for marriage equality. This is an issue of fundamental fairness for the men and women who seek to create a family with the person they love. I look forward to working with our President to make this vision of full equality a reality."

Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat 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."

Rep. John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan: "I commend President Obama for his support of marriage equality. The right to choose whom to marry is not just a civil right, but a fundamental human right. That is why I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and support its repeal today. And it is why I strongly support President Obama taking a stand on this important moral issue. President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken courageous, sound, and appropriate positions supporting equal rights for all Americans."

Rep. Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts: "Earlier this year, President Obama took a major step towards vindicating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to marry when he announced his refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act's blatant discrimination against us. Today he has taken the next logical step to complete the process by expressing his support for our right to marry people of the same sex. I understand why a President facing a national election took some time in making this decision, and I believe that the fact that he first announced his repudiation of DOMA gave him a chance to assess the reaction to that. I know there are those who wish that elected officials would completely ignore public opinion – of course only in those cases where they do not agree with public opinion – but that is not a realistic course in a democracy for those seeking to get the authority from the public to govern. This does not meant that the President's decision today was entirely without some political risk, but I believe it will be clear in the days ahead that this will cost him no votes, since those opposed to legal equality for LGBT people were already inclined to oppose him, and that it will make it easier for us to mobilize the people in this country who oppose discrimination to help reelect him."

Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota:"The President's announcement today shows how out of touch he is the values of American families. The President continues to practice the politics of division and diversion. He's tried to divide the country over gender, education, class, and now he's attempting to divide families all as a diversion to his failed economic policies that have affected all Americans. Americans know better and support traditional marriage. In every state where marriage has been on the ballot, traditional marriage has prevailed. Even last night, in North Carolina, we saw traditional marriage defended. Marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation of our society. For more than 200 years, traditional marriage has been a cornerstone of the United States of America. I will do everything in my power to support and preserve traditional marriage and to protect American families. I was proud to introduce the first Constitutional amendment proposal in Minnesota when I served as a Minnesota state senator. I'm pleased that this November Minnesotans will have an opportunity to vote to defend traditional marriage. I will continue to protect traditional marriage, despite our president's decision to thumb his nose at the traditional institution of marriage."

Rep. Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado: "President Obama's announcement in support of marriage equality is welcome news for American families. I thank the president for his support for equality and look forward to working with him to strengthen the institution of marriage by securing the right of all Americans to marry the person they love."

Michael Bloomberg, independent Mayor of New York: "This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights. 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 back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."

Antonio Villaraigosa, Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles, via Twitter: "We stand w/Pres. Obama – love doesn't have a color, love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate #MarriageEquality"

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus: "Because our children's future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives. Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children. Children are our nation's most precious resource. We also salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive families. Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.

"Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage. As the family is our basic unit of society, we oppose initiatives to erode parental rights."

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper: "What the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous. Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign's ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short."

GOProud Chief Strategist Christopher R. Barron: "It is good to see that after intense political pressure that President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality. I am sure, however, the President's newly discovered support for marriage is cold comfort to the gay couples in North Carolina. The President waited until after North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This is hardly a profile in courage by President Obama. For years now, President Obama has tried his hardest to have it both ways on this issue. The real kudos here goes to LGBT activists and their allies who finally forced the President into yielding on this issue."

President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats of right-leaning The Family Leader was asked by CNN Political Reporter Shannon Travis how social conservatives might react: "They were already fired up to get rid of Obama. This will only make them more on fire to get rid of Obama. And if I'm Romney today, I'm smiling. Because everybody knows the base has not been all that inspired about Romney. But Romney has been clear, throughout the campaign, that he supports one man, one woman marriage. He signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge. So I've got to believe this benefits Romney today.... This decision may have made Barack Obama a one-term president."

President Tony Perkins of the right-leaning Family Research Council: "The President's announcement today that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) to giving taxpayer funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the President has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law. As demonstrated by yesterday's overwhelming vote in North Carolina, redefining marriage remains outside the mainstream of American politics, especially in the critical battleground states and among minority voters. In North Carolina, the amendment received more than 60 percent of the vote in majority-black counties. Considering that ten of the sixteen battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the President's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election. The President has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama."

Executive Director Justin Ruben of the left-leaning MoveOn.org: "This is a historic day. The president's support for marriage equality is great news that's likely to energize progressive activists across the country."

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero: "President Obama is doing the right thing and showing leadership by recognizing that lesbians and gays should be treated as equal citizens. 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."

President Gary Bauer the of right-leaning American Values organization: The charade is finally up. We've always known that Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. With every action he's taken, from court appointments to his rhetoric, he's been preparing the way to undermine traditional marriage. Obama's finally made that support explicit. Every American who can't find work, whose home us under water or who can't afford to fill up his gas tank should be wondering why the president is spending even one second of his time thinking about how and to radically transform the institution of marriage. It's a political move meant to energize his leftwing base and distract Americans from his disastrous economic policies."

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker: "Marriage is an institution that can only be between one man and one woman. While President Obama continues to play politics, the Republican Party of Iowa will continue to support maintaining the traditional view of marriage as between one man and one woman."

National Organization for Marriage Co-Founder Maggie Gallagher: "On the one hand, morally this is good because lying to the American people is always wrong. President Obama has come clean that he is for gay marriage. Politically, we welcome this. We think it's a huge mistake. President Obama is choosing the money over the voters the day after 61 percent of North Carolinians in a key swing state demonstrated they oppose gay marriage. We now have clear choice between Romney and Obama, and we look forward to demonstrating in November that it's a bad idea for a national candidate to support gay marriage. Marriage is a winning issue for the GOP."

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown: "President Obama has now made the definition of marriage a defining issue in the presidential contest, especially in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada."

National Jewish Democratic Council Chairman Marc R. Stanley: "On behalf of NJDC's board, staff, and membership, I am pleased that the President has made a decisive statement in support of marriage equality. From working to end the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy to ending the Federal Government's defense of the unjust Defense of Marriage Act, this President has demonstrated an unmatched record of progress in favor of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. President Obama has admirably continued to demonstrate the values of tikkun olam in his work to make America a better place for all Americans. I am truly proud of President Obama and know that so many others in the Jewish community share my feelings."

Incoming President Chad Griffin of the left-leaning Human Rights Campaign: "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."

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation President Herndon Graddick: "The arc of history today bent a little closer to equality for every American. After hearing the stories of countless couples and families, President Obama has drawn the same conclusion shared across party lines and by a majority of Americans today: everyone deserves the opportunity to marry the person they love. As our nation draws closer to a more perfect union in which every person is created equal, we are left deeply encouraged by this truly watershed moment."

Also see:

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Filed under: President Obama • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Pat

    I have to say vote for President Obama in 2008 and I will vote for him in 2012. But, we do have a difference of opinion on gay marriage. I know it is 2012 and it is a new day and a new way!. I will never recognize gay marriage because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and it is stated in the bible clearly. I suggest to read it! I do ask that God please help us regarding this issue because we really do need your help!

    May 9, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Beth

    I am shocked they'd want to overturn thousands of years of religios tradition. It's shocking. Civil unions are not enough?

    May 9, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Mustang941

    I did not want to vote for Romney...But now I will.. LGBT have civil unions.... I am glad I live in state that has voted on the marriage issue already and it stood as between One Man and one Woman." Virginia ".... I think the President just threw in the white flag to Romney over this...........I can hear it tomorrow on the Rush, Glen Beck and the rest on the talk radio shows, they just got the sound bite they been waiting for.

    May 9, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. welshes99

    Minority rule...

    May 9, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Beth

    Will churches be required to perform these services?

    May 9, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Mo

    How is letting Gays and Lesbians getting married infringing on religious rights. By that logic if a people of different religion get married wouldn't that be worse? I think the bullies out their who use a religious moniker in front of their names need to mind their own beeswax. All because you are a pastor or reverend doesn't mean you know anything about what God wants. Get your head out of you backside and realize no one knows what God wants so stop worrying about it.

    May 9, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. dom

    Obama thinking: "Now if I could only get the dog deli lovers to vote for me."

    May 9, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Dee

    great job by the President! this is a civil rights issue!

    May 9, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Are you kidding me?

    I support our President's stance in this matter. This is a human right that should not be denied regardless of religious stance. I know many people do not agree but there is a clear separation between church and state.

    Conservations will get energized but this stance does not harm them or this country. In fact it takes down a hypocritical stance this country is holding onto for no real reason. This IS supposed to be a free country.

    Change you can believe in (and I am a Republican).

    May 9, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Romney is not My Hero

    WOW! This election cycle is history making (even more than the last)... I think heads on the Left and Right just exploded. I don't recall hearing a loud bang or feel the earth move, but I know it happened. I support everyone's right to be both happy and miserable in marriage, too.

    Way to Go! OBAMA 2012!

    May 9, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Hmmmmm

    I hope this doesn't encourage people to be gay.... But also REAL freedom includes being able to decide who you're attracted to, so it shouldn't be banned!

    May 9, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Judy

    I think its great, now we have equality for all.

    May 9, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. pdxmomma

    Beth, I am so very sad for you... stuck in an unhappy marriage and living with your small-minded and intolerant personality must be quite the task for you to do every day.

    Equal rights for all – isn't that the victory of today?

    May 9, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Someone please tell the GOP/Teatrolls that we eagerly await their decision as to whether they want to take the country back to bible times, the 1850's or the 1950's. They really need to make up their minds so we know precisely what to ridicule.

    May 9, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Doug in NYC

    So, I'm wondering here. To those people who are opposed to "gay" marriage, please supply well reasoned opposition opinions to it, other then "It cheapens my marriage". I want specific examples of how it directly affects you and your marriage. I also want to vote in North Carolina on a couples right to marry. Every marriage should be put to a public vote on weather or not those 2 people have the right to get married. It's only far!

    May 9, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Oh well...

    I wasn't going to vote for Obummer before today and I'm still not going to vote for him after today. He stinks.

    May 9, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. David Ostrom

    I am disgusted not even shocked anymore! My guess is beastality will be the next thing president says he is ok with.
    Sick, Sick, Sick...and Shame, Shame, Shame...Our founding fathers are turning over in their graves...

    May 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Oh well...

    I wasn't going to vote for the dood before today and I'm still not going to vote for him after today. He stinks.

    May 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Will churches be required to perform these services?"

    Of course not. That's just nonsense demagoguery from the righties who want to scare you into opposing it. This is about the government having an obligation to treat equally the PRIVATE CONTRACT between two consenting adults. It has NOTHING to do with religion, forcing religions to do anything, forcing anyone to "accept" anything or infringing on religious freedom or sacraments.

    May 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. jrcop

    It's about time! I am pleased we have a President with enough courage to support what is right.

    May 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Nate

    The President is only answering this particular question because recent public discourse has forced him to. He has clearly always felt this way, but was hesitant to make this announcement for all the fervor it would generate...as it has... I'm glad he's done it, and I don't see anything nefarious in the way in which he has done it. Thoughtfully.

    As for issue itself, those that say this is an attack on marriage, then feel free to chose a church that adheres to your religious view. To prevent other churches from performing gay marriages...isnt' that an infringement on THEIR religious freedoms? And what would it matter to you and your church if someone was married by a justice of the peace?

    As for the legitimacy of the resulting marriage in the eyes of the law... Well, that has to do with The Law, and has NOTHING to do with religion. No reason for opponents not to continue their reactionary ways in their own church and let other people do what they want, with equal legal rights.

    Finally, as is always the case (slavery, women's suffrage, etc...), the issue of civil liberties should NEVER be left to a popular vote. Otherwise it would still just be wealthy, white land-owners who could vote.

    May 9, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. jrcop

    It's about time! I am pleased we have a President with enough courage to do what is right!

    May 9, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. DW

    What is the BIG deal? If you don't like Gay Marriage, don't have one. I wasn't thrilled with my brother marrying the woman he chose, but, so what? it was his decision not mine.

    May 9, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "I am shocked they'd want to overturn thousands of years of religios tradition. It's shocking. Civil unions are not enough?"

    Who's overturning religious tradition? This is merely 250+ years of America's very special brand of hypocrisy gettnig overturned here.

    May 9, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Ol' Yeller

    @Hmmmmm
    "I hope this doesn't encourage people to be gay..."
    How is one encouraged to be Gay? Also, I keep seeing people post, "The Bible is clear on this..."
    A. How is thge Bible clear on this?
    B. Since when have we as a country based our laws on what the Bible says? If we did, there would be no divorce, men couldn't shave, we couldn;t eat seafood, all women would be shunned to the wilderness during their peiods... and on and on...

    May 9, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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