New York's gay community is elated today over President Barack Obama's long-awaited decision that he supports marriage for same-sex couples.
Obama told ABC News today, “for me personally, it is important to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
He said he “hesitated” on the issue of gay marriage in the past because he felt that civil unions would be sufficient.
“Oh my god, I am so freaking happy right now!” exclaimed West Village resident Anthony Brown. Brown, who runs The Wedding Party, an advocacy group for gay couples and families, married his husband in 2005 in Canada. “I am so proud to be an American and Democrat right now.”
Brown said he is surprised Obama made the announcement now — “I didn’t think it would come until he was safetly in office for his second term” — but added that it’s about time Obama clearly expressed how he feels on the hot-button topic.
“His position before was completely untenable. You can’t sort of want the same rights for gay and lesbians and not call it what it is: equality,” he said. “I would have voted for him in November regardless, but now I’m going to skip to the ballot box!”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, long an outspoken supporter of gay marriage, called Obama's statement "a major turning point."
“This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights. No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people — and I have no doubt that this will be no exception," said Bloomberg today. "Today’s announcement … builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.”
Celebration at Stonewall?
Speaking of Stonewall, Dirk McCall, director of communications at the Gay Men's Health Crisis, predicted a public rally outside the historic Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street later today or this evening. Stonewall was the site of a police raid against gay men in the late 1960s, and was seen as one of the first defining moments in the gay civil rights movement.
"The community is elated," McCall told Metro. "(Obama's) statement demonstrates growing acceptance of full equality for all people and will help with progress on a wide array of issues — combating bullying, reducing stigma and hopefully fully funding services that focus on the LGBT community."
New York state legalized gay marriage last year and the state's first gay and lesbian couples married last summer.
On Monday, Obama is scheduled to be in New York City, where he will appear at a reception for the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council, according to the New York Times. The special guest will be Ricky Martin, who came out as gay in 2010.