President Obama’s decision to come out squarely in favor of same-sex marriage quickly electrified Democrats, progressives and other supporters of marriage equality.
In the midst of his battle for re-election, Obama announced in an interview with ABC News: “I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Previously, Obama had said only that his views on the issue had been “evolving.”
But with his declaration Wednesday, Democrats and other progressives quickly rallied to the president’s side.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), fired off an email titled “BREAKING: Historic announcement.”
“Today is an historic day in America. This afternoon, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality for all Americans,” Murray says. “I am standing with the President and I hope you will, too. As a result of taking this stand, President Obama will face attacks from every corner of the Republican Party. Everyone from Mitt Romney to the tea partiers will unite behind this issue to try to end his presidency.”
Murray’s email includes a link to an online petition in support of same-sex marriage which the senator encourages recipients to sign.
Democracy For America (DFA), a prominent progressive organization associated with former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, portrayed Obama’s announcement in similar terms.
“This is a huge moment for DFA members who’ve been working towards full marriage equality across the country — in California, in New York, in North Carolina, in Vermont, in Washington and everywhere in between,” says Jim Dean, chairman of DFA and Howard Dean’s brother. “Our work’s not done yet, but this is a huge victory in that fight.”
DFA’s email includes a link to allow Twitter users to tweet their thanks to the president.
Meanwhile, the president himself emailed supporters to explain his sudden outpouring of support.
In the email sent from his 2012 re-election campaign website, Obama described how his thinking had changed.
“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,” the president says. “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,” Obama says.