Speaking the day after an historic Supreme Court ruling striking down the key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Obama said the benefits of being married should extend to same-sex couples no matter where they live. Twelve states (soon to be 13 with California), plus the District of Columbia, currently allow same-sex marriage, while 35 states ban it.
“If you’ve been married in Massachusetts and move somewhere else, you’re still married,” Obama said in Dakar, Senegal, in a response to a question from CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. “Under federal law, you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple. But again I’m speaking as a president not a lawyer.”
Saying he’s directed the federal government to ensure statutes that apply to married people are now properly extended to same-sex couples, Obama explained the Wednesday ruling did not mean that same-sex marriages were permitted nationwide.
“The Supreme Court did not make a blanket ruling that applies nationally, but rather lifted up the ability of states to recognize and respect same-sex marriage, and that the federal government couldn’t negate the decision by those states,” Obama said.