Read Obama's Speech About Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Jun 26, 2015
Ideas

Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times—a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American

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

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law; that all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether they're marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move or even visit another.

This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.

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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In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.

This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case. It's a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have 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. It's a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades working and praying for change to come.

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.

My administration has been guided by that idea. It's why we stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and why we were pleased when the court finally struck down the central provision of that discriminatory law. It's why we ended, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

From extending full marital benefits to federal employees and their spouses to expanding hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, we've made real progress in advancing equality for LGBT Americans in ways that were unimaginable not too long ago.

I know a change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed so slow for so long. But compared to so many other issues, America's shift has been so quick.

I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today's news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.

But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shift in hearts and minds is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them, because for all of our differences, we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone. That's always been our story.

We are big and vast and diverse, a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories but bound by the shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.

We are people who believe every child is entitled to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we've made our union a little more perfect.

That's the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court, but more importantly, it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were.

And slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.

What an extraordinary achievement, but what a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things; 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.

Those countless, often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud.

Thank you.

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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