OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird denounced Russia's controversial new anti-gay law as hateful Thursday, saying it could incite violence.

In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, Baird described how Canada has worked behind the scenes to persuade Russia not to follow through with the law.

Baird outlined the details of eight meetings, dating back to January, during which Canadian officials pushed the issue with the Russians, before and after President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial bill into law in June.

Baird said he is deeply concerned about Thursday's comments by Russia's sports minister that the new law will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"As concerned as we are about the Olympics, that's nothing. That's two, three, four weeks for the athletes and participants and the visitors," Baird said in a telephone interview from Colombia.

"This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence."

Baird said he is aware of hate crimes against gays in Russia and of Internet luring and violence in recent days and weeks.

The minister said Canada will work with like-minded countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom to pressure the Russian government to change the law ahead of the Olympics.

The law imposes fines for spreading information about gay choices to minors, and it bans gay pride rallies.

It has also sparked calls for boycotts of the Olympics and of Russian vodka.

Baird did not endorse the calls for a boycott but said Russia's hosting of the Olympics would draw attention to the issue.

"In the run-up to the Olympics, it provides a spotlight on this mean-spirited and hateful law," Baird said.

"Hopefully, we can use that spotlight to bring pressure to bear on the Russian government."

Earlier Thursday, Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said the law would be enforced against athletes and visitors to Russia during next year's winter games.

Mutko told R-Sport, the sports newswire of state news agency RIA Novosti, that "an athlete of non-traditional sexual orientation" would not be banned from the games.

"But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable."

Baird said Mutko's comments appeared to have "pushed aside" earlier assurances the International Olympic Committee received from Russian officials that athletes and other visitors would not be subjected to the new law.

"We wanted more than a verbal commitment to the IOC. And now the comments by the Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, are of deep concern," Baird said.

"The Olympics is a great celebration of international sport, of international co-operation. This type of law being enforced flies in the face of the entire Olympic spirit."

Baird said the Canadian embassy in Moscow first raised the matter with the Russian foreign ministry on Jan. 29, four days after the bill was introduced. The Canadian ambassador held a follow-up meeting with Russia's deputy foreign minister two weeks later.

Between Feb. 28 and July 19, Baird said, officials from the Foreign Affairs Department met on five occasions with the Russian embassy in Ottawa. On Thursday, Baird said Canada registered its concern again.

"We've been working hard behind the scenes, and obviously we're deeply disturbed, deeply concerned about President Putin signing this bill into law."

Baird has spoken out in the past about the discrimination and violence against gays. He has singled out Canada's fellow Commonwealth member country, Uganda, which has its own anti-gay law.

But Baird said he was advised that speaking out publicly against Russia might backfire.

"We tried to accept the advice and counsel of human rights groups, gay rights activists to temper our remarks before things become law and to work behind the scenes quietly," the minister said.

"You'll recall I've been criticized on the case with respect to Uganda that I've been too vocal, even when I just raised violence against gays in Uganda, I didn't even raise the bill. It was seen as a victory for the proponents of the bill."

Baird described how he saw the roots of the issue take hold during a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in May 2012.

"I can recall being in Washington when (then U.S. secretary of state) Hillary Clinton was chairing the G8 foreign ministers meeting and we put, as part of our statement, support for sexual minorities. Russia put an asterisk beside it saying they were not on board," he said.

"This did not just pop out of nowhere."

Baird said he planned to raise the matter with his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly next month in New York.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper butted heads with Putin ahead of this year's G8 summit in Northern Ireland over Russia's continued support of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. He characterized Russia as the outlier of the G8.

Harper will be in Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg for next month's G20 summit. His office had no immediate comment on whether he would raise the issue with Putin.

Earlier this week, the NDP's sports critic Matthew Dube urged Baird "to act promptly to fight anti-gay repression in Russia."

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  • President Barack Obama

    Obama released this official statement following the SCOTUS rulings: "I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. "This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better. "So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly. "On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that. "The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."

  • Republican Candidate For Lieutenant Governor Of Virginia E. W. Jackson

    Republican Candidate E.W. Jackson released the following statement after the SCOTUS decisions: “In a Constitutional Republic such as ours, the people have the right to keep an overbearing federal government from interfering with our time-held institutions such as traditional marriage. That is why DOMA was passed in the first place. “The Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by large majorities in Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, reinforces the rights of the people to hold to their traditional beliefs without the force of government undermining those beliefs." "While the Supreme Court ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, stating that it denied certain federal benefits to same-sex couples, much of DOMA appears to still be intact. Jackson concluded, “I believe this ruling still upholds the right of the people of Virginia to hold to their traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This ruling still keeps in place the Virginia Marriage Amendment, which I support.”

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: "Today’s Supreme Court decisions on marriage are a regrettable overreach against the will of the people as expressed through large, bipartisan majorities in Congress and directly through referendum in California – a markedly blue state. "Nothing in the Constitution compelled this result, and, once again, the Court has chosen to substitute its own views of public policy for the democratically expressed will of the voters. "The family is the fundamental building block of society, and I strongly support traditional marriage between one man and one woman. The voters of California made that same choice, until the courts improperly substituted their preferences for those of the people. "Our Federalism allows different states to make different policy judgments based on the values and mores of their citizens. Federal courts should respect that diversity and uphold that popular sovereignty, not impose their own policy agenda."

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: “I believe in the traditional definition of marriage. South Carolinians have repeatedly said that is the definition they support as well. “I have been a strong supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act. I voted for it as a member of the House of Representatives, and as a Senator wrote a brief to the Supreme Court to uphold this important law. I was disappointed with today’s outcome, but respect the Court’s decision. “One key point, today’s Supreme Court ruling will not change South Carolina law and I will continue to fight for and defend the traditional definition of marriage.”

  • House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) released the following statement after the SCOTUS ruling: “Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President Clinton signed it into law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally. While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

  • House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D)

    House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland issued the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: “’We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ America was founded with these words, which speak the hopes of a nation that today took an important step closer toward fulfilling its Founders’ promise. “The Supreme Court’s historic decision to strike down Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act opens doors of opportunity for thousands of married couples in Maryland, in twelve other states, and the District of Columbia. Recognizing that same-sex partners, married under the laws of their states, are entitled to the Constitution’s equal protection, the Court today listened to the voices of millions of gay and lesbian Americans and their loved ones and drew on the principles of justice as imparted by our Founders. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion makes it clear: ‘DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages…’ Today, that stigma has thankfully been erased. I was proud to have joined an amicus brief with other House and Senate Democrats in March making the case that Section 3 of DOMA violated our Constitution and stood opposed to our most basic values as Americans. “For the people of California, the Court’s decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which rules that those challenging the invalidation of Proposition 8 have no standing, allows same-sex couples to marry in that state once again. This is a day that will be remembered in the history of our country’s ongoing march toward justice and equality for all. Only when no one among us is prevented from living with equal dignity, denied the freedom to create a family based in love and partnership, or deprived of the joy that comes from not having to face discrimination on a daily basis will the powerful words of our Declaration of Independence truly ring across our land. I join in celebrating today’s milestones and will continue working to ensure that our democracy works for all Americans and all families."

  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)

    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) released the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: “This is a great day for Americans who love the blessings of freedom and equality that our nation promises,” said Senator Menendez, who declared his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, and the repeal of DOMA, in an op-ed published in The Star-Ledger in December 2011. “As a member of Congress who signed the amicus brief urging this decision, I am thrilled that the Supreme Court took a strong stand for marriage equality. The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the rights of gay and lesbian married couples stands as an affirmation of equal protection under the law for everyone, regardless of our sexual orientation. Now there can be no ambiguity. You cannot be discriminated against simply because of whom you love. Our nation will provide and protect the rights and privileges of married people – period.”

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) released the following statement after the SCOTUS ruling: “I welcome today’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act because the federal government should empower households, respect the decisions of states and otherwise get out of the way. This ruling represents victories for states’ rights and equal treatment under the law.”

  • Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.)

  • Attorney General Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder released this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: “Today’s historic decision in the case of United States v. Windsor, declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, is an enormous triumph for equal protection under the law for all Americans. The Court’s ruling gives real meaning to the Constitution’s promise of equal protection to all members of our society, regardless of sexual orientation. This decision impacts a broad array of federal laws. At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice will work expeditiously with other Executive Branch agencies to implement the Court’s decision. Despite this momentous victory, our nation’s journey – towards equality, opportunity, and justice for everyone in this country – is far from over. Important, life-changing work remains before us. And, as we move forward in a manner consistent with the Court’s ruling, the Department of Justice is committed to continuing this work, and using every tool and legal authority available to us to combat discrimination and to safeguard the rights of all Americans.”

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) released this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: "Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. "For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations. "Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA. "What the Court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States."

  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) released the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: "Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” "Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA makes true those words, and I am overjoyed for countless gay and lesbian couples whose love and commitment will no longer be classified as unequal to that of their straight counterparts. I am also overjoyed for all Americans who now live in a country that is more free and equal than ever before – for truly, the meaning of American citizenship as a whole was elevated today. "The onus is now on the states to move forward. That goes for New Jersey too. "Now that the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA, New Jersey’s Civil Union law is plainly substantive discrimination that deprives New Jersey’s gay couples of more than 1,100 federal rights, privileges and benefits afforded to married couples. "I urge our legislature, which already passed gay marriage, to act immediately to put it before the governor once again. I know they will, and I’m hopeful that other states around the country will follow their lead. "We can live in a country where no American is a second-class citizen … but only if we work every day to create it."

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

    Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) issued the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: “The debate over marriage equality is about fairness – about whether gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated just like their family members, their friends, and their neighbors. It’s about opportunity – about whether every American gets to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success. And it’s about freedom –the freedom to love, the freedom to commit, the freedom to build a family. Most of all, it’s about whether the progress our country has made will be reflected in our laws. "One thing is clear; people’s views on marriage equality are changing because they believe LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States. "Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two historic cases that reflect the progress we have all witnessed across our country. This progress is defined by the ideal that more and more Americans want to leave to the next generation a country that is more equal, not less. "The nation’s highest court reaffirmed our founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. The Court made a strong statement for equality and freedom, overturning discrimination against gay and lesbian American citizens simply because of who they love. "While this is a huge step forward for our country, the fight to make America more equal does not end with a Supreme Court decision. There is more work to be done to fulfill the promise of freedom and equality for all – in which America becomes a place where every family’s love and commitment can be recognized and respected under the law.”

  • President And Secretary Clinton

    President and Secretary Clinton released this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: "By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union. We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California. We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day, and congratulate Edie Windsor on her historic victory."

  • 2012 Republican Candidate For Senate Linda McMahon

  • Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

    Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) released this statement following the SCOTUS rulings: "Every couple should be able to make a public affirmation to their communities, families and friends of their shared commitment and responsibilities to the person they love, regardless of their sexual orientation," Udall said. "Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed Colorado values and the U.S. Constitution's promise of equality. Promoting the commitment and shared responsibility that comes with marriage strengthens our families, our communities and our nation. I'm proud to stand with Coloradans celebrating today's groundbreaking decisions and pledge to continue fighting for full marriage equality."

  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)

    Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) released the following statement after the SCOTUS ruling: “The Supreme Court made the right decision in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this morning. "As a U.S. Senator representing Pennsylvania, I have read many letters written to me by LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families who want nothing more than equal rights under the law. These letters included deeply personal statements from people across our Commonwealth and had a substantial impact on my decision to support marriage equality. "I believe the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA was a critical step in strengthening equal rights for all.”

  • Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) issued the following statement after the SCOTUS ruling: "I am disappointed in the Court's ruling today because the American people should hold the power to determine marriage policy, not the Supreme Court," said King. "I believe DOMA meets all constitutional standards and I am disappointed that a technical, standing issue means that gay marriage is legal in California despite the will of the voters who enacted Proposition 8. "It is important to realize that the Supreme Court intentionally chose not to find a constitutional right to marry anyone you choose, whether same-sex, or otherwise. The definition of marriage is not redefined this day. Legally speaking, states are now the sole body responsible for identifying legal marriages. Thirty-eight states to date have chosen to identify only traditional marriage. The attempt to redefine marriage will not change the fact that limited government should be responsible for making this decision, and that marriage marks the sacred union of one man and one woman."

  • Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.)

    Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) issued this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: “Today is a victory for the men and women who carried the fight for marriage equality on their shoulders for decades, when public opinion was not on their side. It is a victory for the hundreds of thousands of families who have always deserved a country that recognizes them. And it is a victory for their sons and daughters – for all of our sons and daughters -- who will grow up in world where their government can’t say that someone’s family doesn’t count. “But the battle is far from over. The promise of equal protection and equal recognition still fails to reach Americans in 37 states across our nation. As we celebrate the right of California citizens to love and marry who they choose, we recommit ourselves to the day when equality will no longer know borders, restrictions, or limitations of any kind.”

  • Log Cabin Republicans

    Gregory T. Angelo, Executive Director of LCR, released the following statement after the SCOTUS decisions: "Today's ruling is a victory of conservative principles and admonishment of government overreach. "Civil marriage strengthens families, supports stability, and allows greater opportunity for couples to live without the crutch of government assistance, and now with Section 3 of DOMA rightly relegated to the dustbin of history, same-sex couples in civil marriage partnerships in those states that allow it can engage in the full spectrum of federal rights previously denied them. "Log Cabin Republicans thanks our allies and advocates around the country for their efforts, with special recognition to Republican Ted Olson, whose persuasive argument against Proposition 8 has cemented his legacy as a conservative hero on the right side of history, regardless of the scope of today's ruling. Now the fight continues in the states, and Log Cabin Republicans will continue to be on the front lines to take the conservative case for marriage to Republicans across the nation. History is on our side, and the wind is at our backs. We're not done yet — not by a long shot."

  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)

    Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) released the following statement after the ruling: "This is an historic day for our country. The highest court in the land has properly thrown on the trash heap of history a discriminatory law that denies rights to Americans based on who they love. With this uplifting decision, the Court is sending a clear message to our country: the days of denying rights to same-sex couples are numbered. As Vermonters affirmed years ago, all Americans are equal under the law regardless of sexual orientation. There is much more work to be done, but this is a positive step on the inevitable path to full equality. The Court should now finish the job and knock down state laws banning marriage equality.”

  • Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.)

    Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) issued the following statement after the ruling: "The Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional today in a great victory for justice and equality. No longer will legally married same-sex couples in this country be treated differently from anyone else. As vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus and as someone who lived under institutionalized discrimination myself, this is a proud and important day for the tens of thousands of married LGBT couples in this country and their families. And while the ruling in the Prop 8 case did not expand marriage equality nationwide – legalizing same-sex marriage just in California – I will continue to fight for our LGBT friends living in states that have banned same-sex marriage to experience this victory for themselves soon."

  • New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D)

    New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D) issued this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: “Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory for equality. I have long said that there is no place for discrimination in our laws or our constitution and this ruling affirms that. “DOMA’s discrimination went well beyond just the ability for same-sex couples to get married. Today’s decision illuminates the layers of discrimination that have been allowed to exist under this federal ban, the roughly one thousand discriminatory and financially-costly practices that have affected every facet of same-sex couples’ lives. “This is a major step forward and will hopefully serve as a springboard for other states struggling to achieve equality, namely New Jersey. “I would hope that this decision will make Gov. Christie and Republican members of our legislature take a circumspect look at the many ways in which their denial of support has allowed discrimination to continue to flourish in our state and recognize that it’s not too late to change this,” said Oliver."

  • Dick Durbin

    Senate Defense subcommittee Chairman Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. presides over the subcommittee's hearing to examine Defense Department leadership, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen, Martin Dempsey testified before the subcommittee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

    Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released this statement following the SCOTUS rulings: “Today, the Supreme Court has rightly stood with the millions of voices across the nation calling for marriage equality. The fight to protect the freedom to marry the people we love is not over in America, but this is a huge battle won. Today is a day when freedom rings for those who wish to exchange rings," said Rep. Markey. “The Court’s decision confirms what we have long known, that all Americans have the right to pursue happiness by marrying the person they love. I was proud to have voted against DOMA in 1996, and it is time we finally close this chapter of discrimination," concluded Rep. Markey.

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the SCOTUS rulings: “I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision striking down DOMA as unconstitutional. Although today’s ruling only applies to couples legally married under state law, it will be marked as a turning point forward in the civil rights movement towards marriage equality for all,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Not only was DOMA out of step with popular opinion, it institutionalized discrimination against lesbians and gays based purely on who they love. It’s a shame the House GOP irresponsibly wasted millions of taxpayer dollars over the past few years to defend the bigotry engrained in DOMA.”

  • DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)

    DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) issued this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: “Today’s Supreme Court decision shows how extreme and intolerant House Republicans really are – they’re so out-of-step with Americans that House Republicans voted to waste millions of taxpayer dollars defending a discriminatory law that even a conservative Supreme Court invalidated. The good news is that today’s decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and invalidating California’s Proposition 8 are a tremendous step forward for the equality of all our fellow citizens, whose love and marriages deserve to be recognized by their government like any other couple. “While we celebrate today’s victory for marriage equality, we also recognize that there are still many obstacles to full equality for all Americans, particularly after the Court put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act yesterday. House Democrats will stand together against the forces of hate and intolerance that deny some Americans their civil rights – whether it’s employment discrimination or equal access to the vote.”

  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

    Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) issued this statement following the SCOTUS decision: “Today is a proud day in American history when we can say to all Montanans, Americans and their children: your love and your family are just as good as everyone else’s under the law. For too long, same-sex couples and their children have been denied more than 1,000 federal rights and obligations that married couples enjoy. That was wrong. In the United States of America, no one should be treated as a second class citizen simply because of who they choose to love,” Baucus said. “I believe each of us has a moral obligation to leave this place in better shape than we found it, and today’s decision puts our country on the right side of history. Now it’s time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and guarantee all Montanans the same opportunity to succeed in the workplace.”

  • Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.)

    Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) released the following statement after the ruling: “In recent years, both California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act became symbols of discrimination around the country and around the world. Today, ‘equality for all’ prevailed. I applaud both rulings made by the Supreme Court this morning. The Defense of Marriage Act treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. In striking down Section 3 of DOMA, the Court ensures that married gay and lesbian couples are fully recognized by their government and that they and their children qualify for the host of rights and benefits designed to strengthen and protect American families. "For married couples living in states that do not recognize their marriages, however, there is still uncertainty. The federal government must ensure that these couples receive full range of federal agency and federal policy recognition and respect that they deserve. I urge the administration to provide policy and administrative clarity to these couples and take every possible step to ensure they receive fair treatment. I am committed to working with the president to make that happen.”

  • Former Republican Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.)

    <a href="http://www.postonpolitics.com/2013/06/mark-foley-who-cast-gut-wrenching-1996-vote-for-doma-applauds-todays-supreme-court-ruling/" target="_blank">According to the Palm Beach Post</a>, former Republican Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality. "Obviously I think it’s a very, very good ruling by the court. It’s one of the votes I wrestled with at the time," Foley <a href="http://www.postonpolitics.com/2013/06/mark-foley-who-cast-gut-wrenching-1996-vote-for-doma-applauds-todays-supreme-court-ruling/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">said</a>.

  • California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom

  • President Barack Obama

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released the following statement after the SCOTUS decisions: “This is good news for all Americans who believe in the words carved in marble on the front of the Supreme Court building, equal justice under law. But it is a special victory for gays and lesbians married in Vermont and the increasing number of other states that followed our lead in granting same-sex couples the same rights as everyone else."

  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

    Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) released the following statement after the SCOTUS decisions: “The Supreme Court today upheld our Constitution’s guarantees of equality,” Brown said. “For the next generation of Americans, for the military families who have supported servicemembers in the shadows, and couples who have dedicated their lives to one another for decades, this historic ruling proves that our American future is not defined by yesterday’s inequality.”

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) released this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: “This is a tremendous victory for Edie Windsor and for this nation,” said Nadler. “Today’s ruling affirms what we stand for as Americans – the guarantee that every person and every family is given equal respect under the law. It means that married same-sex couples can participate fully in federal programs that provide much-needed security for American families. For my constituent and neighbor, Edie Windsor, money that she was forced to pay in estate tax following the death of her beloved wife, Thea Spyer, will be returned, helping to ensure that Edie has the resources she needs. Far beyond this, today’s ruling also means that Edie and Thea – their lifelong commitment to each other and lawful marriage – will finally receive their government’s equal respect and support.” “We should rejoice and celebrate today, but our work is not yet done. The Court has ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety. That is why I am reintroducing my bill, the Respect for Marriage Act. which will send DOMA into the history books where it belongs.”

  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released this statement following the SCOTUS decisions: "Today, this Nation took a major step toward full equality because the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Today’s ruling confirms my belief that the Constitution protects the rights of all Americans, and that no one should suffer from discrimination based on who they love. Edith Windsor and thousands of gay and lesbian individuals and families across the country have had their rights vindicated by the Supreme Court’s decision. I share the joy of those families this morning, although there is still work to be done. This ruling upholds the motto engraved in Vermont marble above the Supreme Court building that declares “Equal justice under the law.” "Section 3 of DOMA had defined marriage for purposes of federal law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman,” excluding all other lawfully married couples from all the federal responsibilities and rights of marriage. That does not represent the values we hold as Americans. All couples who are lawfully married under state law, including in Vermont, should be entitled to the same Federal protections afforded to all other married couples. We all deserve equal protection under the law, and the Supreme Court has upheld that vital principle. This decision means that we no longer have a tier of second-class marriages in this Nation and in the state of Vermont. I applaud this important milestone in the continued march toward equality and pledge to work to ensure that all our laws respect the rights of every American."

  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)

    Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) issued this statement after the SCOTUS decisions: “It just got better. This is an historic moment in the civil rights movement, and I am truly happy for what it means for friends and Delawareans like Lisa and Drew, Charles and Stephen, and Michael and Mac.”

  • Meghan McCain

  • Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)

    Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) issued the following statement after the SCOTUS decisions: “In 1996, I was one of a small minority of members of Congress to vote in oppositions of DOMA because I believe that it is unconstitutional and violates equal protection under the law. Earlier this year, I joined with many of my colleagues in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the law should be found unconstitutional. . “Today’s ruling is a huge victory for equality. The Supreme Court has held what I have been arguing for more than a decade—DOMA is unconstitutional. Yet it is still just one step in the march towards total equality for all Americans. I remain strongly in support of repealing DOMA in its entirety and passing the Respect for Marriage Act so that all marriages between two committed individuals in the United States are recognized by the federal government. “It is imperative that all Americans are able to enjoy the same rights, and that means putting an end to discrimination in all forms. That’s why in March, I led a letter with 110 of members of Congress calling on President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting federal contractors without sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies from receiving federal funds. All workers should be free from workplace discrimination and it is unconscionable for tax dollars to go to companies that do not have equal protection policies. “It is time that we put an end to discrimination in our nation once and for all. The equal treatment of all Americans is the guiding principle of our democracy and we need to make sure that our laws reflect the values we support. Whether it is in the workplace or in our communities, all Americans deserve to be treated the same. “I am thrilled by today’s ruling and optimistic that it well usher in a new era of equality in our nation. I look forward to standing resolute in the fight to tear down the remaining barriers standing before the LGBT community and I applaud the Court for its decision today, which moved us closer toward total equality.”

  • New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono (D)

    New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono (D) issued the following statement after the DOMA ruling: “The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a landmark moment for our country, our values and all those who have waited so many years to see this day. For too long, our gay brothers and sisters were discriminated against under the law simply because of who they loved. The DOMA violated our core beliefs as Americans – that all citizens deserve equal justice and equal rights under the law. Today’s ruling affirms that all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be treated equally and offered the same benefits under federal law. While the battle was arduous and the fighting was fierce, our country now stands firmly on the right side of history as a more free and welcoming place for all to live and love.”

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) released this statement following the DOMA ruling: “Today is a historic day for our country on its long march towards upholding the fundamental values this country was founded upon of fairness, equality and justice. I am overjoyed the Supreme Court has ruled to end the discrimination that had been enshrined into U.S. law. “Marriage is the true foundation for strong families. Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and be treated equally under the law. No politician from this day forward should try to stand in the way of this fact. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled DOMA is unconstitutional, Congress must do its job and get this corrosive law off the books so there is certainty for all loving committed couples across state lines. I promise to work hard to pass the Respect for Marriage Act and finally put the discriminatory DOMA policy into the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

  • DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)

    Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) issued this statement after the DOMA ruling: "DOMA was a bad law to begin with and the Supreme Court did the right thing in striking it down. As voters and legislatures in Maine and states throughout the country have shown, the government has no business telling two people in a loving, committed relationship that they can't get married. Although there is still a long way to go for true marriage equality in all fifty states, as of today the federal government won't be standing in the way of that goal."

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley

  • Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)