President Obama Says U.S. Constitution Guarantees Same-Sex Couples the Right to Marry

by Charles Joughin

“Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states.”

WASHINGTON – In an interview with The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, President Obama has for the first time announced he believes the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry in all fifty states.  This is a stark progression from the President’s previous position, which to allow each state to decide the issue individually.  President Obama told Toobin, “Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states.” 

“The President’s position on marriage equality is supported by dozens of federal court rulings over the last year, which have ruled discriminatory state bans on marriage unconstitutional,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “America’s core values of liberty and equality under the law were enshrined in our Constitution by our founders to protect those who face inequality inflicted by the majority.  It’s only a matter of time before committed and loving gay and lesbian couples can legally marry in every corner of this great nation.” 

The President’s previous position allowed states to continue enforcing discriminatory laws and state constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex couples from legally marrying.  Those bans have been struck down as unconstitutional by dozens of state and federal court rulings across the country in recent months and years.  Four such rulings out of the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals were allowed to stand by the Supreme Court of the United States earlier this month.  While all of the rulings vary slightly in the legal justification for striking down the bans, all point to either the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection or due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In May 2012, President Obama became the first sitting President of the United States to announce support for marriage rights for same-sex couples.  Viewed in full, President Obama’s legacy of achievement is unmatched in history: three landmark pieces of legislation; 90 significant policy or regulatory changes, including the largest conferral of rights in history to LGBT people via the implementation of the Windsor decision; and 15 federal judicial and seven ambassadorial appointments of openly LGBT people.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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