Obama phoned Edie Windsor to congratulate her
President Obama has welcomed the end of America’s anti-gay DOMA law, saying that it “was discrimination enshrined in law”.
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court ruled that a section of the law, which barred married gay couples from receiving federal benefits and recognition, was unconstitutional.
Aboard Air Force One en route to Africa, Obama phoned 83-year-old Edie Windsor, who challenged the law in court, to congratulate her.
She had been forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes when her partner and spouse of more than 40 years, Thea Spyer, passed away – a tax that would not have been applied to a heterosexual married couple.
The president issued a statement through the White House, saying that the Supreme Court’s historic ruling “is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law”.
He also revealed that he had instructed the Attorney General and other members of his cabinet to ensure that the decision is “implemented swiftly and smoothly”.
Finally, he allayed the fears of conservative religious people, assuring them that the decision affected civil marriage and that religious institutions retained their rights to define and consecrate marriage in their own way.
Below is Obama’s full statement.
“This was discrimination enshrined in law. 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 ﾖ 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.
“So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
“On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision ﾖ which applies only to civil marriages ﾖ changes that.
“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”