This is truly a major moment in the history of our country. The momentum for this has been building for years, thanks to the dedicated efforts of many in our communities who have worked tirelessly to break down yet another barrier that has kept some of us separate and not equal under the law. This battle is not won, not yet; we need only look at the shameful votes in places like North Carolina that are last-ditch efforts to maintain discrimination.
I celebrate this action by President Obama, taken at a very crucial moment in his career. His statement has now drawn a very distinct line in the sand that is the democratic footing of our nation. He has put the nation, and the world, on notice that the President of the United States of America will no longer tolerate or support indecision about this fundamental right for people to be treated equally by the laws of our country. The preludes to his statement were the decisions by his administration to not actively support the Defense of Marriage Act, and to end the shameful Don't Ask - Don't Tell policy of the United States military services. It is interesting, and amazing, that President Obama made the statement now, in the thick of a heated election campaign, and in the aftermath of the North Carolina vote (and previous similar acts by other states).
Unfortunately, although many of us feel that this position is long overdue, it is very timely, and sends to each of us an urgent call to action. The position taken today by President Obama makes him an even larger target for the right wing, particularly the religious right in this country, to un-elect him in November. The Romney campaign will have to ratchet up the rhetoric and the attacks on Obama, using same-sex marriage as the cudgel. Even worse, the religious-right and other extreme right Super PACs will dump many millions into negative ads focused on same-sex marriage.
Fellow citizens - it is time. It is time to stand behind our President - strongly, vocally, actively. Not just about this issue, but about all of the issues that are part of our core beliefs: excellent health care for all citizens, excellent education for all of our children, jobs (jobs!), equity - including the super wealthy paying their fair share, solid and tough regulation of the financial industry; you know the list.
Finally - in case you aren't on a first-name basis with our President, and don't get all those personal emails from him like I do (and from Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and all the rest), here is the rest of Barack's email to me today. Enjoy it, and be proud to be an American today!
I hope you'll take a moment to watch the conversation, consider it, and weigh in yourself on behalf of marriage equality:
I've always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.
But over the course of several years I've talked to friends and family about this. I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together. Through our efforts to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, I've gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction.
What I've come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens.
Even at my own dinner table, when I look at Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, I know it wouldn't dawn on them that their friends' parents should be treated differently.
So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.
If you agree, you can stand up with me here.