NEW YORK — Freedom of religion isn’t reason enough to deny any American their constitutional rights, President Barack Obama said Sunday as he addressed members of the LGBT community, one of his major sources of political and financial support.
Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser, Obama said it’s important to recognize that some parts of the country remain uncomfortable with same-sex marriage and that it will take time for them to catch up to the majority of Americans who support such unions.
But while Americans hold dear the constitutional right to practice their religion free from government interference, he said that right can’t be used to deny constitutional rights to others.
“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” Obama said during remarks that were interrupted by repeated applause and cheers. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”
“And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. That’s not how we move America forward,” he added. That was an apparent reference to some of the Republican presidential candidates.
Earlier this month, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis spent several days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite a Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex unions legal nationwide. Davis said such marriages violate her Apostolic Christian faith.
Since being released, the Rowan County clerk has allowed marriage licenses to be issued, but only without her name and title. She also announced that she has left the Democratic Party and become a Republican.