5 : Homosexualité : L'Afrique suit une trajectoire différente de celle des Etats-Unis
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You called the DOMA ruling a victory for couples everywhere who are seeking equal treatment under the law. But this leaves unanswered questions for couples in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage. And now it’s largely up to you. Will you direct the government to make sure that federal benefits are extended, like Social Security, to all couples, no matter where they live? And will you comment generally on the historic nature of yesterday’s rulings? Also, did you press President Sall to make sure that homosexuality is decriminalized in Senegal?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think the Supreme Court ruling yesterday was not simply a victory for the LGBT community, it's a victory for American democracy. I believe at the root of who we are as a people, who we are as Americans is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law. We believe in basic fairness. And what I think yesterday's ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody.
When I spoke to Ms. Windsor -- 83 years old -- and I thought about the 40 years of her relationship and her partner, who is now passed, for her to live to see this day where that relationship was the vehicle whereby more people received their rights and are recognized as a testament to the love and commitment that they have made to each other, that was special. And that's just a microcosm of what it meant for families and their children all across America. So it was a proud day I think for America.
Now, as you point out, there are a whole lot of implications that flow from it, because the Supreme Court did not make a blanket ruling that applies nationally, but rather lifted up the ability of states to recognize the dignity and respect of same-sex marriage, and that the federal government couldn't negate the decision by those states. We now have to comb through every federal statute. And although we hadn't pre-judged what the ruling had been, I had asked my White House Counsel to help work with lawyers across every agency in the federal government to start getting a sense of what statutes would be implicated and what it will mean for us to administratively apply the rule that federal benefits apply to all married couples.
What's true though is that you still have a whole bunch of states that do not recognize it. The Supreme Court continues to leave it up to the states to make these decisions. And we are going to have to go back and do a legal analysis of what that means. It's my personal belief -- but I'm speaking now as a President as opposed to as a lawyer -- that if you've been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you're still married, and that under federal law you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple. But I'm speaking as a President, not a lawyer.
So we're going to be evaluating all these issues and making sure that we work through them in a systematic and prompt way, because now that the Supreme Court has spoken it's important that people who deserve these benefits know that they're getting them quickly. And I know that, for example, Chuck Hagel already mentioned some work that the Department of Defense is doing on that front. And I think we're going to be seeing that in all the various agencies.
Now, this topic did not come up in the conversation that I had with President Sall in a bilateral meeting. But let me just make a general statement. The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they're treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.
But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.
So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you -- the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law -- people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.
Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule -- treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well.
PRESIDENT SALL: (As interpreted.) (...)
Now, on the issue of homosexuality, Mr. President, you did make a long development on this issue. But you said something very important -- general principles which all nations could share, and that is the respect for the human being and non-discrimination. But these issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries -- you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don't share the same views.
Senegal, as far as it is concerned, is a very tolerant country which does not discriminate in terms of inalienable rights of the human being. We don't tell anybody that he will not be recruited because he is gay or he will not access a job because his sexual orientation is different. But we are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I've already said it in the past, in our Cabinet meeting it is Senegal's option, at least for the time being, while we have respect for the rights of homosexuals -- but for the time being, we are still not ready to change the law.
But of course this does not mean that we are all homophobic. But the society has to absolve these issues. It has to take time to digest them, bringing pressure to bear upon them, on such issues. It is just like the capital punishment. In our country, we have abolished it for many years. In other countries, it is still the order of the day, because the situation in the country requires it. And we do respect the choice of each country. But please be assured that Senegal is a country of freedom and homosexuals are not being prosecuted, persecuted. But we must also show respect for the values and choices of the other Senegalese people.
And we are discussing issues such as adoption of children. This is a serious topic of debate within the government. The Parliament will be taking over shortly, so these are issues that will be addressed by the society based on the progress of the mentalities and on what people believe is acceptable or unacceptable. That's what I want to say on that issue.