For the first time in American history, a sitting U.S. president has come out in favor of same-sex marriage.
President Barack Obama’s remarks were leaked in advance of a taped segment for Good Morning America with Robin Roberts that will air Thursday morning.
In it, he said, “... At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Although noteworthy for their historic context, the president’s remarks reflect , acknowledging marriage as a legal, and not a religious, institution.
Obama was preceded in this by a similar statement from Vice President Joseph Biden, and his words were echoed throughout New Jersey by state Senate President Steve Sweeney, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg and Steven Goldstein, the chairperson of Garden State Equality, the advocacy group that attempted to bring the New Jersey Legislature to a vote on the issue earlier this year.
“We will remember for the rest of our lives where we were when we heard the sitting president of the United States say he supports marriage equality,” Goldstein said in a statement.
“No longer will opponents such as be able to take cover by saying, ‘Why are you going after me? My opposition to marriage equality is simply the same view as that of our president.’ That political cover is now thrown into dustbin of history parked outside the archives of prejudice, collecting its rhetorical trash,” he said.
When reached for comment, Collingswood Mayor James Maley said he thinks the president is “simply affirming a civil right that has not been uniformly recognized.”
“I think this is something that occurred slowly, over time, as people met face to face with the couples that are affected,” Maley said. “It’s a very grassroots, personal contact that has changed people’s minds.”
Maley, who long ago signed onto Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a pledge drafted by the Freedom to Marry national lobby, . He says these are important because they guarantee critical legal protection for families.
“When we did civil unions, we did couples that were concerned with legal recognition because of children they’d adopted and health care decisions for their partner,” Maley said.
As Collingswood Patch reported earlier this year, Collingswood is home to an estimated 132 unmarried, same-sex couples—77 male couples and 55 female couples—of which 22 households are raising children (10 of the male and 11 of the female couples).
Comparatively, the 2010 census also estimates that Collingswood is home to 576 unmarried-partner households, 444 of which are heterosexual couples. Of those, 122 are raising children. There are also an estimated 2,320 traditional husband-wife households, 990 of which are raising children.
Six states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa) plus Washington, D.C. have legalized gay marriage. Only two others (New York and California) legally recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere.