President Barack Obama hailed the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across 50 states as “a victory for America.”
Speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Friday, the president said that the decision shows “real change is possible. … That shifts in hearts and minds is possible.”
He argued that the Supreme Court ruling was an example of “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt” — one that ends gay men and women’s status as second-class citizens.
The speed with which public attitudes have shifted in favor of gay marriage has been dizzying, but that ignores the legacy of the gay rights movement. Friday’s victory was also the result of millions of people who endured taunts and bullying, who came out to families and friends, and who marched for equality, he argued.
These people, Obama said, “slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”
“Today we can say on no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” said Obama, closing his remarks by stating, “America should be very proud.”
Prior to his remarks, Obama called plaintiff Jim Obergefell to congratulate him on the victory. The phone call was captured live on CNN, as the president told Obergefell he was proud of him for his advocacy.
“Congratulations,” Obama said. “Your leadership on this changed the country.”
“Know that not only have you been a great example for people, but you’re also going to bring about lasting change in this country,” he added. “It’s pretty rare when that happens.”
Obergefell thanked the president for his work on behalf of the LGBT community and said it was important for him to take the case all the way up so he could “live up to my commitments to my husband.”
The Cincinnati native filed the lawsuit that led to the decision after state law prevented him from being recognized as a widower following the 2013 death of longtime partner John Arthur.