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Obama Declares 'Victory' After Historic Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Jun 26, 2015

President Obama declared “our union a little more perfect” on Friday after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage.

Speaking from the Rose Garden on the second day in a row that the Supreme Court handed down a historic ruling, Obama said Friday’s landmark decision could be credited not only to the Supreme Court, but also to the “countless small acts of courage” of gays, lesbians and allies who stood strong in the face of adversity over decades.

“What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” Obama said Friday, speaking for just under 10 minutes. “What a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.”

See Scenes of Celebration After Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling

Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, on June 26, 2015.Jacquelyn Martin—AP
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage
John Becker, Paul Guequierre
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Same Sex Marriage
Sasha Altschuler
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, on June 26, 2015.
Jacquelyn Martin—AP
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Though many Republican lawmakers stand firm in their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, there has been a seismic shift in the country's feeling on the subject. On Friday, the Supreme Court affirmed that point of view, declaring that states do not have the right to keep same-sex couples from getting married, and that gay and lesbian couples have the legal right to marry in the U.S.

Obama's celebration of Friday's ruling came just one day after he declared "victory" for his signature health care law, which the Supreme Court saved from being upended, and he used the same word to describe the same-sex marriage decision.

“It's a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights. It's a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other,” Obama said Friday. “And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

Obama said that though the U.S. was founded on the principle that all were created equal, each generation has faced its own test to ensure that those words ring true for all.

“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens," he said. "And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

Silent No More: Early Days in the Fight for Gay Rights

In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
When a bill guaranteeing equal job opportunities for homosexuals stalled in New York City Council last spring, militants demonstrated at City Hall. With fists raised, they shout a football style "Gay Power" cheer at police blocking the building.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
A homosexual activist steps between a pair of police horses to be interviewed during a New York demonstration. Militants often charge police brutality and welcome arrest for the sake of publicity. They also encourage press coverage of their protest actions.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
Gay rights protest, California, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Collared by a patrolman after he deliberately crossed police barricades at New York's City Hall, Gay Activists Alliance President Jim Owles submits to arrest. Members of his organization were protesting City Council reluctance to debate a fair employment bill for homosexuals.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay Pride, 1971.
Gay Activists Alliance, New York, 1971.
Gay rights rally, 1971.
Gay rights event, 1971.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the
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Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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