WASHINGTON – President Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court for striking down a core component of the Defense of Marriage Act and vowed to try to help same-sex couples from states such as Massachusetts whose marriages aren’t recognized in some other parts of the country.
Obama, speaking at a press conference in Dakar, Senegal, said that gay couples should have their marriages recognized even if they move to states that have banned same-sex marriage.
“It’s my personal belief—but I’m speaking now as a President as opposed to as a lawyer—that if you’ve been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you’re still married,” Obama said. “And that under federal law you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple. But I’m speaking as a President, not a lawyer.”
Obama said he has asked his administration to comb through every federal statute to flesh out the impacts of striking down DOMA, which had previously prevented the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. The ruling means that more than 1,000 rights are now available to same-sex couples.
“It’s important that people who deserve these benefits, that they’re getting them quickly,” he said.
Obama also called the ruling “a victory for American democracy.”
“I believe at the root of who we are as a people, who we are as Americans is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law,” he said. “We believe in basic fairness. And what I think yesterday’s ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody.”Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.