Today was a truly historic day in our nation’s history, as the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. As President Obama stated, “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.”
I also want to congratulate the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case, as the Court today declined to overrule a lower court’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
It is fitting that these two decisions came during LGBT Pride Month, when we remember the contributions of LGBT individuals, while looking ahead in the fight for greater equality.
In fact, just yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking at an event celebrating LGBT Pride Month at the Pentagon.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning, and I spoke at the event commemorating the contributions that lesbian and gay service members have made in defending our country and its citizens.
When I look back over the last four and a half years since President Obama took office, nothing better exemplifies that kind of profound, meaningful, historic change than the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It is one of the most significant civil rights accomplishments of President Obama's career.
Last September, on the first anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I once again invited a small group of gay and lesbian service members – officers, and enlisted personnel from every service, some of whom brought their partners– to the White House— this time, to share stories about how their lives had changed since the repeal.