Local gays and lesbians on Wednesday applauded President Obama’s public support of same-sex marriage, calling the announcement a pivotal moment in their fight for equality.
In explaining the “evolution” of his view on gay marriage over the last several years, Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts that “at a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
His statements in support of same-sex marriage were the first for a sitting U.S. president.
Burbank resident Paul Katami, who with his longtime partner, Jeff Zarrillo, filed a joint legal challenge with a lesbian couple to California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, was celebrating Wednesday what he described as a “very good day” for the gay community.
“This is what America is about,” Katami said. “This isn’t something that needs to be a divisive issue, this is something that should be a uniting issue.”
Obama’s comments could encourage other prominent figures — political or otherwise — to throw their support behind marriage equality, he added, and it clears the way for other important work.
“I really hope that it starts to disconnect the idea that this is a political issue,” Katami said. “These are people’s lives. We don’t make people’s lives a political fight, or we shouldn’t. Our focus should be on the economy. Our focus should be on jobs.”
In February, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, setting the stage for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. But similar laws have spread to other states.
Obama’s statements drew rounds of praise from Democratic lawmakers, including state Assembly Speaker John Perez, who on his Twitter account posted: “So proud of the President and his historic announcement.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) issued a statement Wednesday applauding Obama’s position on an issue of “great significance to the country.”
“Marriage equality extends one of our most basic rights of citizenship to all Americans — that is, the right to marry the person you love,” Schiff said.
The main scope of Obama’s position was in this response to Roberts in the ABC interview:
“Over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”