After the Supreme Court ruled that states must accept same-sex "marriage," President Barack Obama said that he respects the "deeply held beliefs" of Americans who still oppose the practice but expressed hope that they will change just as others have.
The president, in remarks at the White House Friday morning, also opined that the 5-4 decision was a "victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come."
"Compared to so many other issues, America’s shift [on same-sex "marriage"] has been so quick," Obama said. "I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.
"But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them."
Obama himself has "shifted" on the issue, expressing support for gay marriage in 1996, then, as a presidential hopeful, coming out against it, and finally, in 2012, declaring that his views "had evolved" and directing his administration not to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court.
The president’s suggestion that those who are "enlightened" about gay rights should help inspire change among those who still oppose it based on religious grounds is reminiscent of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s statement in April that that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.”
The White House was illuminated Friday night in the colors of the so-called rainbow flag, symbol of the gay rights movement.