Obama, local politicians react to Supreme Court rulings

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Local and national politicians have issued statements on the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

Statement from President Barack Obama

I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  This was discrimination enshrined in law.  It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people.  The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.  We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents' marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today's decision, and I've directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Statement from Senator Mazie Hirono

"This is a historic day for civil rights and marriage equality. I am heartened by the Supreme Court's decision affirming equal protection for married gay couples under the 5th Amendment.

"The marriage equality movement has come a long way, both in Hawaii and across the country. In 1998, I was part of a small group of Hawaii leaders who spoke out against an amendment to the Hawaii constitution that enabled legislation banning same-sex marriage.

"There are still many instances in our society where discrimination occurs – from our immigration system to workplaces across the country to states that still ban gay marriage. I will continue to join efforts to end these injustices and fight for equal treatment of all people under the law."

Statement from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa

"I want to congratulate everyone who has been involved in working toward marriage equality in Hawaii and across the United States.

"Today, we have established that our nation will not deny marriage rights and benefits based solely on whom one chooses to marry. DOMA has fallen, and with it, the federal government's mistaken notion that some marriages are better than others; that two men or two women cannot love each other as deeply and as meaningfully as an opposite-sex couple. No couple needs a court to tell them that their feelings have always been real and their commitment has always been true, but today we stand as a nation and say that we are with you. At the federal level, equality is no longer a dream.

The Supreme Court also ruled 5-4 that Proposition 8 proponents do not have standing, returning marriage equality to California.

"In the case of Proposition 8, we have now reiterated that a loud majority cannot deny the legitimate rights of a committed minority. It took courage for California activists to stand up, but the simple commitment to protecting the rights of couples who want nothing more than to publicly proclaim their connection to one another was enough to stand up to the anger and prejudice that tried so hard to keep them down.

"It has been a historic day, but we still have work to do. It is time for Hawaii to join that growing chorus of voices across our nation in proclaiming that we will not tolerate discrimination in marriage. I am proud to have helped pass Hawaii's civil unions law for the first time, which offered couples equal rights under state law. That was the best we could do at the time, but now that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages, our state should amend its laws, end discrimination in marriage, and make marriage equality in Hawaii a reality. They can count on my support."