President Obama’s long-awaited statement expressing support for gay marriage is drawing responses from the region’s political and religious leaders.
“President Obama’s comments today reflect the views of a growing number of Americans across the country. I welcome the President’s words, and those of members of his Administration, for their outspoken support for marriage equality,” said Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat.
“I appreciate not only this support for gay and lesbian couples but also the support for our right as a religious community to perform marraiges for our members as our faith guides us,” said the Rev. Mary Katherine Morn of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) in a Facebook posting.
Rev. Morn said it was an issue not only of personal choice but also one of religious freedom.
“As a minister fully authorized by my state to perform weddings, I do not believe it is appropriate for the government to tell my what I should do as a religious leader. I know some ministerial colleagues who would not want the state telling them they must perform gay and lesbian weddings. I agree with that. Just as the state should not tell me I cannot,” she said.
UUCF was one of the congregations represented last February as gay marraige supporters rallied at the Fairfax County Courthouse, where a same-sex couple had been denied a marriage license.
Rev. Kären Rasmussen and Barb Brehm, longtime Fairfax residents who are both retired Navy veterans and have been domestic partners for 26 years, had entered the courthouse and requested a marriage license from the Clerk’s office. According to law, their request was denied.
“It’s very hard to be rejected. After 26 years together, you think they’d say, ‘What’s the question?’ “ Brehm said.
“I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America.
In the interview, Obama said that he had discussed the issue around the dinner table with his wife and daughters. He said he’d heard from service members who, even after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, felt constrained because they aren’t allowed to get married.
And in the end, the President said, he believes it’s important to “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
In his statement, Rep. Moran said marriage equality is “an issue of basic fairness.”
“The Declaration of Independence clearly states that ‘all men are created equal’ and that everyone has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness’ – principles that surely cannot be achieved without the ability to marry the person you love. Religious institutions have the right to define and sanction marriages in keeping with their religions’ faith. But the federal government has no place in determining which types of state-sanctioned marriages to recognize,” Moran said.
“The President’s comments today represent an important turning point in the fight to end discrimination. President Obama has become the first sitting President to take this position, and he deserves credit for arriving at this decision. Much work remains to achieve the goal of true equality for all citizens,” he added.