Obama Said Something About Gay Marriage No Other President Has During a State of the Union

Obama Said Something About Gay Marriage No Other President Has During a State of the Union
Source: AP
Source: AP

During his State of the Union in the nation's capital Tuesday night, President Barack Obama offered his view that same-sex couples' right to marry is a "civil right," taking a stand unlike any president before him on the issue of marriage equality.

"I've seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart," he said, "to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that 7 in 10 Americans call home."

His remarks serve as a conclusion to the long and winding path he's walked on the issue. During his 2008 campaign, he came out against marriage equality, saying that marriage was "between a man and a woman" and that he was "not in favor of gay marriage." 

In May 2012, however, he revealed his support for the right of same-sex couples to wed. "At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," he said then.

Source: Adam Lau/AP

Obama's remarks on Tuesday night come just four days after the Supreme Court agreed to hear four cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. "If the court rules in favor of a nationwide right to marry," wrote Mic's Greg Krieg, "the justices would effectively end the decades-long legal debate and allow gay couples to wed in all 50 states."

According to the Human Rights Campaign and BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner, Obama's remarks also included the first-ever use of the words "bisexual" and "transgender" in a State of the Union address.

Though the comments were but a small portion of this year's symbolic State of the Union — the entire speech totaled about 6,500 words — they're a hugely important milestone in the fight for marriage equality. As Geidner writes, "Now the president will make clear that he has traveled the path to meet advocates at their goal: marriage equality is a civil right."

It's a watershed moment, not only for the president, but for the country as a whole.