Full Transcript. Excerpt Below:
Q There is some question about the constitutionality of the War Powers Act.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m just saying I don’t have to reach it. That’s a good legal answer.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me start by saying that this administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation. And we have done more in the two and a half years that I’ve been in here than the previous 43 Presidents to uphold that principle, whether it’s ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” making sure that gay and lesbian partners can visit each other in hospitals, making sure that federal benefits can be provided to same-sex couples. Across the board — hate crimes — we have made sure that that is a central principle of this administration, because I think it’s a central principle of America.
Now, what we’ve also done is we’ve said that DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional. And so we’ve said we cannot defend the federal government poking its nose into what states are doing and putting the thumb on the scale against same-sex couples.
What I’ve seen happen over the last several years, and what happened in New York last week I think was a good thing, because what you saw was the people of New York having a debate, talking through these issues. It was contentious; it was emotional; but, ultimately, they made a decision to recognize civil marriage. And I think that’s exactly how things should work.
And so I think it is — I think it is important for us to work through these issues — because each community is going to be different and each state is going to be different — to work through them. In the meantime, we filed a — we filed briefs before the Supreme Court that say we think that any discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgenders is subject to heightened scrutiny, and we don’t think that DOMA is unconstitutional [sic]. And so I think the combination of what states are doing, what the courts are doing, the actions that we’re taking administratively, all are how the process should work.
Q Are you at all uncomfortable that there could be different rules in different states, you know, and for somebody to make the argument that’s what we saw during segregation –
THE PRESIDENT: Chuck, I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American. And I think that principle will win out. It’s not going to be perfectly smooth, and it turns out that the President — I’ve discovered since I’ve been in this office — can’t dictate precisely how this process moves. But I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and I think that’s a good thing.