Asian Pacific American legislators praised President Obama for expressing his support of same-sex marriage May 9 during an interview with ABC News.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii): “I am very pleased that the president affirmed his support for marriage equality. I think everyone who wishes to enter into marriage and start a life together should be allowed to do so, regardless of sexual orientation. How can we call ourselves the land of the free, if we do not permit people who love one another to get married? I look forward to working with the president to ensure his position on marriage equality becomes law in this country.”
(Inouye voted against the Defense of Marriage Act when it was introduced in 1996, and has long supported marriage equality. Earlier this Congress, the senator co-sponsored S. 598, the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011, which aims to repeal DOMA. He is also a co-sponsor of S. 821, the Uniting American Families Act, which would extend marriage-based immigration to include same-sex partnerships.)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii): “I strongly agree with the president that all Americans deserve the equal opportunity to have their loving committed partnerships legally recognized as marriage, with the same rights and responsibilities. I am proud of President Obama for taking this courageous stand, and I know his upbringing in diverse Hawaii helped to shape his understanding that everyone should be treated with equality.
“No religious institution should ever be forced to conduct a ceremony that is against their beliefs, but as a legal matter all Americans deserve the same rights. As someone who has been happily married for 64 years, I believe every American who loves another person should have the same right to form the bond of marriage and commit to living a life together, for better or for worse.”
(Akaka voted against the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and has supported efforts to repeal it. He is an original co-sponsor of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act of 2011, and was a strong supporter of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010.)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte): “I am thrilled to see President Obama speak in favor of marriage equality for all Americans. Marriage is a right that everyone — gay or straight — deserves to enjoy. I’ve spent my career advocating for marriage equality. I am more optimistic now than ever that we can finally put the days of dividing Americans by sexual orientation behind us. If gay men and women are fighting in our military and dying on our behalf, the least we can do is ensure they have equal rights here at home.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose): “Today, President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage equality, recognizing a long held belief that millions of Americans, including myself, share: that marriage is a human right and the product of a loving committed relationship that all Americans – gay or straight – should have the opportunity to experience.
“As vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus, today represents a monumental barrier broken in our struggle for equality and a reminder that we are on the right side of history. Discrimination in any realm is still inequality. Now more than never, it is imperative to remind each other, and our elected officials, that until we all have equal rights — be it the right to marry or earn equal wages — liberty and justice has not yet been granted.
“I look forward to continuing my efforts with a strong ally in President Obama to finally repeal the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act and push for LGBT rights in the workplace.”
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “President Obama’s announcement in support of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples shows the kind of courageous leadership that puts him in the vanguard of expanding civil rights for all. Today is a great day in our march for equality.”
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance): “Today is a great moment in history. The president of the United States has declared his support for marriage equality. Progress cannot be stopped.”
State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco): “Today, President Obama reaffirmed the hope and promise most Americans felt nearly four years ago when he was elected. After yesterday’s disappointing defeats in North Carolina (where voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage) and Colorado (where a civil union bill was killed in the state House of Representatives), the president still had the political courage to do the right thing and publicly support marriage equality. I commend his leadership and commitment to all Americans, and I look forward to the day when such announcements cease to be viewed as momentous and start being viewed as common sense.”
Actor and activist George Takei posted the following statement on “That Blog Is So Takei”:
“Today marks the first time in history a president of the United States has stated his support for marriage equality. I am thrilled by this news, and I commend the president for taking what many pundits inevitably will say was an ‘unnecessary’ risk in an election year. Such an assessment, however, sadly only underscores the second-class status many LGBT Americans experience daily, knowing that their rights and lives are nothing more than a political tool to be hauled out to rally the base, for or against.
“It is time to stop the politics and address the basic question of fairness, for that is what this is about. We cannot say we are a nation that stands for equality, while in the same breath denying basic rights of happiness, financial parity, and state-recognized companionship to millions. Nor can we any longer trot out the tired notion that civil unions and marriages are the same. For if they were, we would not call them by different names. Separate can never be equal — a lesson we learned during the civil rights era that we have yet to apply to the struggle for LGBT rights today.
“The president has done the right thing, and history will remember him for it. But for today, I am all smiles. On behalf of the LGBT community, and all those who support our cause, thank you, President Obama.
“Today, I can proudly feel wholly American.”