President Obama celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, stepping before cameras in the White House Rose Garden on Friday to praise the historic ruling as a "victory for America."
"Sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt," Obama said.
Earlier Friday, the court rule in a 5-4 decision that same sex couples have a right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, clearing the way for gay and lesbian couples across the country to wed. The decision came on the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor, which invalidated a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and allowed for the U.S. government to begin recognizing legally valid same-sex marriages. That ruling, which repeatedly affirmed the equal dignity of gay and lesbian couples, dramatically accelerated the pace of the gay rights movement and became the basis for federal decisions that brought down same-sex marriage bans in nearly two dozen states.
"Today we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we’ve made our union a little more perfect," the president said. Obama added that there is more work to be done for full equality, but he highlighted the work of millions of Americans who "made an entire country realize that love is love."
"What an extraordinary achievement, but what a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things," Obama said. "Those countless, often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud."
Emma Margolin contributed reporting.