Reaction was quick to flood in Wednesday (9 May) after Barack Obama became the first sitting US president in history to publicly support gay marriage.
‘This is a huge turning point in the history of American Civil rights,’ said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. ‘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.’
Bloomberg added: ‘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.’
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said 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.’
Rep. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of the US House of Representatives, said he understands why a president facing a national election this fall took some time in making this decision.
‘This does not mean that the President’s decision today was entirely without some political risk,’ Frank said. ‘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.’
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), called Obama’s support ‘an important moment for civil rights in America.’
‘We simply can not treat same sex couples as second-class citizens in our country,’ Lautenberg said. ‘Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time and is critical to guaranteeing the equal protection under the law promised to every American in the Constitution. The president’s support for marriage equality should inspire Congress, Governors and state legislatures to advance civil rights for all Americans.’
Praise also came from the leading LGBT activism groups including the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Lambda Legal and Freedom to Marry, among others.
‘The arc of history today bent a little closer to equality for every American,’ said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick who called it ‘a true watershed moment.’
‘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.’ Graddick said.
But not everyone was filled with praise.
Log Cabin Republicans, which is comprised of gay and lesbian members of the GOP, said Obama’s announcement ‘comes a day late and a dollar short.’
‘That 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,’ said Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper. ‘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.’
Christopher Barron, co-founder and chief strategist of GOProud, echoed those sentiments: ‘… 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.’