Professors Franke and Goldberg Laud Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality

President’s Turnaround is Praised as Sign of Hope for Proponents of Same-Sex Marriage

New York, May 9, 2012—President Barack Obama’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage today was praised by gender and sexuality law experts at Columbia Law School, who lauded the president’s shift in position on the contentious issue as a sign of hope in the battle over marriage equality in the United States.

Reversing his stated opposition to marriage equality, Obama said in an interview with ABC News today that he decided to support same-sex marriage based on his conversations with gay and lesbian service members, his wife and daughters, and his staff members.

Professors Katherine Franke and Suzanne Goldberg, directors of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, said the president’s turnaround could help inspire others to rethink their positions on same-sex marriage and provide moral weight to legislative efforts aimed at rolling back discriminatory laws and promoting marriage equality.

“The president’s remarks on the inequity of denying marriage rights to same-sex couples signal a hopeful turn in American politics: that a political leader’s views on an important social justice issue such as this can evolve, largely as he notes, through exposure to LGBT people in our families and professional lives,” said Katherine Franke, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. “Let’s hope that the president will turn this new personal conviction about marriage equality into the political will to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Goldberg, the Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law at the Law School, said the announcement marks a “new day in America’s journey toward equality for all.”

“Although the president’s announcement alone will not eliminate the rampant marriage inequality in the United States, his words will surely spark the movement toward marriage equality, giving it even more momentum and moral force,” Goldberg said.