June 26, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Obama praises court ruling against DOMA
Citizens Metal, Barack Obama, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama is spoke out Tuesday on the demise of DOMA. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Following the Supreme Court decisions in favor of marriage equality on Wednesday, President Obama issued a statement and praised justices for issuing the decision against DOMA, which he called “discrimination enshrined in law.”

“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” Obama said. “The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Obama said he’s directed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to work with other Cabinet members to review federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for federal programs, is “implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free,” Obama concludes.

Obama makes no explicit mention of the court decision on Prop 8 in his statement, although his administration helped in the lawsuit by filing a friend-of-the-court brief arguing the measure is unconstitutional.

Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that Obama made two phone calls after the ruling. One was to the plaintiff in the DOMA case, Edith Windsor, to congratulate her on her victory.

“And the President congratulated her on this victory, which was a long time in the making, said he was heartened by the Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of DOMA so that loving, committed couples could enjoy full equality under the law,” Carney said. “And, he said, that it is fitting that this historic ruling should come today, just 10 years after the Court struck down laws making same-sex relationships illegal in Lawrence v. Texas.”

Carney also confirmed that Obama made another call to Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and the plaintiff couples in the Prop 8 case and “congratulated them on a tremendous victory today.”

“This is paraphrasing the President, but the President noted that the laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans have come to accept — we are all more free when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love,” Carney said.

Carney said Air Force One briefly lost connectively when news was being reported about the court decisions in the marriage cases, but Obama learned about them via a telephone conversation with Kathy Ruemmler, White House Counsel.

Asked whether Obama gave a “fist-bump in the air” when the decisions were announced, Carney replied, “He was obviously pleased. He believes that this is a very good day for civil rights in our country and was just glad to see the decisions come down as they did.”

The complete statement from Obama follows:

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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