The symbolic impact of President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality cannot be overstated. In the days immediately following his announcement last Wednesday, several other prominent political figures followed his lead, declaring their own support for the freedom to marry:
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) took to twitter shortly after Obama’s interviews to offer not only his support for same-sex marriage, but for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released an extremely supportive statement, calling it “no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married” and “absurd” that such marriages would have any impact on his life. He later added that he would support legalizing same-sex marriage in Nevada.
- Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) joined the chorus on Thursday, saying that extending marriage equality “is the right thing to do and will not, in any way, undermine the institution of marriage.”
- Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), who is running for re-election after an 11-year hiatus, voiced his support for marriage equality, calling for “increased awareness of the struggle of gay and lesbian Americans.”
- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) came out for marriage equality on Friday, and this week committed to working with state lawmakers to make it a reality in the state.
- House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-SC) added his support for same-sex marriage as a civil right, which he believes should be supported by national policy.
It’s worth also noting that Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) issued an executive order yesterday requiring all state agencies to recognize same-sex marriage. This new momentum only adds to the many Democratic Party Chairs who have endorsed a marriage equality plank as part of the party’s 2012 platform. New enthusiasm for marriage equality will also help in state ballot fights in Minnesota and Maine, as well as those expected in Washington and Maryland. This surge is a testament to Obama’s leadership and the turning tide of history toward justice for all.