AAUW Applauds President’s Support of Same-Sex MarriageMay 11, 2012
“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.”
—President Barack Obama, May 9, 2012
Earlier this week, President Obama became the first sitting president to declare his personal support for same-sex marriage, telling an interviewer that he saw it as a matter of equality. AAUW applauds the president’s announcement. Our member-adopted Biennial Action Priorities affirm our commitment to “freedom in definition of family and guarantee of civil rights in all family structures,” and our Public Policy Program confirms our “opposition to all forms of discrimination and support for constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.”
AAUW opposes any attempt to use the Constitution or federal law as a vehicle for enshrining discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) persons. No Americans should be denied the full range of civil rights and civil liberties due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Such rights and liberties include freedom from discrimination in the workplace, the right to marry, the guarantee of spousal or partner benefits — including the ability to care for dependent children — and the opportunity to serve one’s country in uniform.
While the president’s statement is significant and will have political reverberations, it has no legal impact. Yet the administration has already made significant strides toward promoting LGBT rights and equality, all of which AAUW has supported. These included repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and deciding to no longer defend challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The administration also recently endorsed the Student Nondiscrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would protect all students, including LGBT students, from bullying and harassment. Additionally, the Department of Education has declared that student bullying and sexual harassment are civil rights issues that could be punished under Title IX protections. AAUW commends the administration for taking these steps toward equality for all Americans and urges the president to work toward laws protecting LGBT persons from discrimination.
AAUW opposes all forms of discrimination, and we are glad to see the president expressing his support for same-sex marriage. All Americans are equal under the Constitution and the law and should be treated as such.