Religious Leaders Respond to President Obama's Support for Marriage Equality

LGBT and allied faith leaders from around the country responded quickly to President Barack Obama’s historic announcement in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. President Obama’s landmark announcement comes just days after Vice President Joe Biden told NBC’s Meet the Press that he was ‘absolutely comfortable’ with equal marriage protections for gay and lesbian couples, and just hours after voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment – known as Amendment One – that will change the state’s constitution to recognize only married straight couples; bans civil unions; and eliminates health care, prescription drug coverage and other benefits for public employees and children receiving domestic partner benefits.

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President Obama’s decision to publically support marriage equality is rooted in his faith. In his historic announcement, he stated:

[In] the end the values that I care most deeply about and [Michelle] cares most deeply about is how we treat other people […] [We] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I'll be as president.

Faith leaders from numerous traditions have praised the president for his support for marriage equality. “President Obama’s announcement today regarding same-sex marriage is, in addition to a politically historic moment, a fulfillment of the religious values we hold dear,” said Jay Michaelson, the Founding Director of Nehirim. “As a national Jewish community dedicated to a more just and inclusive world, we applaud the President’s courage – and his humility.”

“We appreciate the political risks he is taking on our behalf,” said Karen Barr, Moderator of the GLAD Alliance (Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples - Christian Church Disciples of Christ). “In coming forward at this time in the election cycle he has proven himself to be a true leader and his process of evolvement on the issue of marriage equality will provide a roadmap for millions of Americans who have not made that transition at this time.”

In a statement, Equally Blessed, a coalition of LGBT-affirming Catholic organizations, stated “like the President, our support for same-sex marriage is rooted in Christian conviction. We believe that all of God’s children are entitled to equal treatment under the law.” Their statement also noted that President Obama’s position is similar to that of a majority of pew-sitting Catholics, who reject the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s rejection of equality for LGBT people.

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, a recent member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the current global head of Metropolitan Community Churches, praised the president for his willingness to listen to pastors and faith leaders who support marriage equality, stating “The president’s statements let the whole country knows that President Obama understands that everyone is equal under the law.” Rev. Troy Perry, who founded Metropolitan Community Churches, echoed Rev. Dr. Wilson’s sentiments. In a statement released yesterday Rev. Perry stated: “Today's announcement by President Obama parallels the evolution taking place in the hearts and minds of citizens across the U.S. Polls now consistently show that a majority of U.S. citizens support marriage equality for LGBT people and this percentage of support continue to grow.

"Same-sex couples are able to live the vocation of marriage as well as anyone else and there are countless testimonies of this fact," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the 1.1-million-member United Church of Christ. "I am pleased to hear that President Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ for more than 20 years, has affirmed his support for marriage equality. I applaud his important and courageous stance."

“We would like to say thank you to President Obama for making history by becoming the 1st sitting American President to come out in support of the freedom to marry for same sex couples. We are mindful of the political sacrifice that you are taking, but rejoice in the fact that our families have gained a new friend and ally,” said TJ Williams and Brad Williams Hauger, the first gay couple to be legally married at the Riverside Church New York City. “Real faith and real justice demands nothing less of us but to stand on the right side of history together as one nation.”

“We teach our kids to live up to the Golden Rule but in our daily lives as adults we often fail miserably’, commented Ani Zonneveld, President of Muslims for Progressive Values. “This is an epic example of living out that Golden Rule and, as Muslims, we should remember that Islam is a faith rooted in justice and from justice sprouts equality. We know that marriage equality is about justice for all so we must support it on both legal and religious fronts”.

GLAAD again commends President Obama for publically stating his support for marriage equality and rooting it in his faith, a tradition that has officially supported legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples since 2005 and has welcomed LGBT people for over 25 years. The president’s statement has strong support in faith communities, and GLAAD will continue to amplify those voices of faith that reflect welcome and acceptance and work towards justice and equality for all people.