President Barack Obama publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage Wednesday.
The announcement on ABC News is the first by a sitting president and it is a shift in the president's position on the matter.
Elected officials throughout the state of California cheered the news.
U.S. Senator Barbar Boxer called it a historic day. Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said we took another step forward in our march toward equality.
His Republican challenger Mitt Romney also seized on the opportunity. He declared his gay marriage position remained the same declaring at a campaign event, "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman."
The president said the decision was a personal one, adding his daughters Sasha and Malia helped him make it. Mr. Obama said he realized it wouldn't dawn on them to think that some of their friends' parents would be treated differently than others because they were gay.
"I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word `marriage' was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth," he said. But added that now, "it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."
But this is an election year and the change in position will clearly have a political impact.
The White House said the president's support of same-sex marriage would have no impact on current policies. They added that the president still thinks marriage is an issue best decided by states.
Leaders of the nation's two largest religious denominations did not meet his declaration with cheers, but instead sadness.
According to the Associated Press, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the comments "Undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society." He added that the people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.
The Rev. Bryant Wright of the Southern Baptist Convention said he thinks voters will hold Mr. Obama accountable for what he called "a calculated, politically expedient decision that completely ignores the biblical foundation of marriage."
Below is some of the reaction from Bay Area politicians:
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer:
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) issued the following statement on President Obama’s announcement today that he supports marriage equality for all Americans:
“This is a historic day and another step in our country’s long march toward equal rights and justice for all. The President’s statement is a milestone and so important for the millions of American families who deserve full equality. None of us can rest until marriage equality is a reality for all Americans.”
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi:
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after President Obama declared his support for marriage equality:
“Today marks progress for the civil rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans. With President Obama’s support, we look forward to the day when all American families are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
“Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history. Just yesterday, a Republican-backed amendment to ban same-sex marriage passed in North Carolina. Here in the House, Republican leaders refuse to bring up a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes critical domestic violence protections for the LGBT community, and they are using taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act in court. These actions only serve to advance fundamental unfairness in our society.
“Throughout American history, we have worked to live up to our values of liberty and freedom, and to end discrimination in all of its forms. Today, we took another step forward in our march toward equality.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee:
Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement on President Barack Obama’s support of marriage equality:
“Today’s announcement by President Barack Obama moves our country one step closer to marriage equality. With the President’s personal support on the issue of same-sex marriage, we celebrate and recommit ourselves to the fight for all families.
Here in San Francisco, we stand ready to begin marrying same sex couples, and we will take this hard fought fight all the way to the nation’s highest court, if necessary. We remain as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were nearly eight years ago when then Mayor Gavin Newsom led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all.”
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris:
"I applaud the President's statement today supporting marriage equality. Equality before the law is the founding principle of our nation. In that spirit, I will continue our common work to ensure that equality belongs to all Californians and all Americans."
Congressmen Pete Stark:
WASHINGTON -- Congressmen Pete Stark (D-CA) issued the following statement on President Obama's support for same-sex marriage.
"President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage today comes as very welcomed news. Same-sex partners deserve all the rights afforded to opposite-sex partners. I have always worked to advance equal rights for all Americans and I will continue my work to ensure full equality is realized."
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg:
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement he supports gay marriage:
“I have never been more proud of our President than I am today. His journey to acceptance is an example of the one value we honor most in America, freedom; freedom to choose who we love, freedom to choose who we marry, freedom to choose who we partner with to raise a family. Denying the right for any two people to marry is discrimination. I can only hope the President’s personal position will swell the tide of public opinion to end prejudice against the LGBT community.”