Obama: Today’s gay marriage ruling will strengthen America and change the world

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President Obama has given an emotional statement celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of same-sex marriage.

Beginning by suggesting that sometimes progress is slow on social issues, Obama said justice had “arrived like a thunderbolt”, and that it would “strengthen all our communities” across the US.

He went on to note LGBT victories under the Obama Administration, and said those celebrating victory should be mindful of those still opposed to same-sex marriage due to religious belief.

The President also said that those celebrating victory should “reach back and help others to join them”, and comparing this ruling to an analogy by Bobby Kennedy about throwing pebbles into a still lake, he said “ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.”

He ended by saying: “Countless, often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks.

They should be very proud. America should be very proud.”

Obama’s full speech is available to read below

Good morning. Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times.

A never ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American. Progress on this journey often comes in small increments – sometimes two steps forward, one step back. Propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens.

Then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This morning the supreme court recognised that the constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law. All people should be treated equal regardless of who they love. This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face, from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state will remain if they decide to move, or even visit, another. This ruling will strengthen all of our communities, by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.

In my second inaugural address, I said if we are truly created equal then surely the love that we commit t one another bus be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that enshrined in law by this decision. This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell, and other plaintiffs in this case – it is a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights – it is a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognised as equal to any other. It is a victory for the allies and friends and supporters, who’ve spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come.

And this ruling is a victory for America – this decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.

My administration has been guided by that idea – it is why we stopped defending the so-called Defence of Marriage Act, and when we were pleased when the court struck down the central provision of that discriminatory law. It’s why we ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

From extending full marriage benefits to federal employees and their spouses, to expanding hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, we have made real progress in advancing equality for LGBT Americans in ways that were unimaginable not too long ago.

I know change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed to slow for so long. But compared to so many other issues, America’s shift has been so quick. I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue – opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact. Recognise different viewpoints. Review our deep commitment to religious freedom.

Today should also give us hope that, on the many issues with which we grapple, many of them painful, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have their responsibility to reach back and help others to join them. For all our differences we are one people – stronger together than we have ever been alone. That’s always been our story.

We are big and vast and diverse, a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs different experiences and stories. But bound by the ideal that who you are, or what you look like, how you started off, or who you love – America is a place where you can write your own destiny. We are a people who believe that every single child is entitled to life and liberty in the pursuit of happiness.

There is so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American, but today we can say in no uncertain terms that our union is a little more perfect. That is the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court but more importantly it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades, who stood up, who came out, talked to parents, parents who loved their children, no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts. What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. What a reminder of Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.

Those countless often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks.

They should be very proud. America should be very proud. Thank you.