The American Civil Liberties Union says the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act is a historic move in the advancement of civil rights.
The ACLU of Eastern Missouri in St. Louis says the decision states very clearly that the federal government will no longer discriminate against lesbian and gay couples for unfair treatment under the law. ACLU executive director Jeffrey Mittman says the Supreme Court acknowledges that states that recognize the rights of two people who are in love to make a responsible commitment to one another should be granted those same rights under the federal government.
St. Louis area Congressman Lacy Clay says the decision is a historic turning point that advances full equality for all.
“The high court has affirmed that equal protection under the law applies to every American,” Clay says.
West Central Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler disagrees. She says marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that children need a mom and a dad.
“Today the Court got it wrong,” she says. “The activist ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act ignored the votes of a bipartisan majority of Congress. This alarming precedent disempowers Congress from making national policy with respect to marriage. We must work to defend the rights of Americans to make marriage policy. We should work to promote the truth of marriage between a man and a woman. It is wise public policy upholding the reality that every child needs a mom and a dad, and society benefits when they do.”
President Obama says he applauds the decision.
“This was discrimination enshrined in law,” Obama says. “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,” he says.
He says he’s directed the Attorney General to work with other members of his Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Defense Department officials will move forward in making benefits available to all military spouses.
“The Department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies,” Hagel says. “The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do. Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.”
Obama adds that “when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:06)