WASHINGTON —  The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) praised President Barack Obama for his historic stance as the first sitting president to recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

The JACL was the first civil rights organization in the nation to announce its support of gay marriages. Citing the Cable Act of 1922, which prohibited marriages between American citizens and Asian immigrants in the 20th century, the JACL correlated current prohibitions against same-sex marriages with discriminatory laws that previously outlawed interracial marriages.

Priscilla Ouchida

Priscilla Ouchida, JACL national executive director elect, stated, “President Obama’s courageous statement that same-sex couples should have the ability to get married provides leadership at the highest level for efforts to attain parity for couples irrespective of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

“Our children, our brothers and sisters, and our friends may have loving relationships with a same sex partner. We strive for a day when they too can enjoy equal standing with other Americans, and marry the person they love. President Obama’s message is important and confirms that barriers to same sex marriages are no longer relevant in a free society.”

In the wake of Obama’s announcement, the JACL urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning California’s Proposition 8 and other state laws that diminish the rights of LGBT Americans.

Advancing Justice

The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice — composed of Asian American Institute, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus and Asian Pacific American Legal Center — also applauded Obama’s announcement.

“President Obama’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in his commitment to his family and all families in America,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “We are thrilled that the president has helped to move the nation forward to a more fair and equitable society for everyone.”

Advancing Justice was instrumental in last year’s repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a law that includes the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community; and fighting against Proposition 8 on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“No American should be prevented from the basic civil and human right to marry due to their sexual orientation,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles. “The president’s affirmation is a major step forward for marriage equality for all regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.”

Advancing Justice will continue to urge legislators to join the president, vice president and others to support full marriage equality for all.

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