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Calling the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling a “victory for America,” President Obama affirmed the landmark decision Friday morning, saying all people are equal “regardless of who they are or who they love.”

Calling the ruling “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,” Obama briefly acknowledged that opponents hold “sincere beliefs” before celebrating the decision during the brief speech, which he delivered from the White House Rose Garden.

Our nation was found on a bedrock principle, that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times. A never ending quest to insure those words ring true for every single American. Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

This morning the Supreme Court recognized that the constitution gguarantees marriage equality. In doing so they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain, if they decide to move or even visit another.

This ruling will strengthen all of our community by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land. In my second inaugural address I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision. This ruling is a victory for Jim and the other plaintiffs in the case. The victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights. Victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other. It is a victory for allies, friends, supporters, who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come. And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free. My administration has been guided by that idea.

That is why we stopped the defending the so-called defense of marriage act. Why we’re pleased when the court finally struck down a central provision of that discriminatory law. Why we stopped “don’t ask, don’t tell,” from extending full marital benefits to employees and spouses extending hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved once we advanced equality for LGBT Americans in ways unimaginable not too long ago. I know change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed so slow for so long but compared to many other issues America’s shift has been so quick.

I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply-held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact. Recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom. But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds, is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them. Because for all of our differences we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone. That always has been our story.

We are big and vast and diverse, a nation of people with different background and beliefs, different experiences and stories but bound by our shared ideal that no the matter who you, what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America’s a place where you can write your own destiny. We are a people who believe that every single child is entitled to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There is so much more work to be done to extend a full promise of America to every american, but today we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect. That is the consequence of a decision, from the Supreme Court, but more importantly it’s a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts and stayed strong. And came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love. What an extraordinary achievement, what a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. What are a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about hHow small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake and ripples of hope cascade outwards, and changed the world. Those countless, often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud. Thank you.

Contact the author at gabrielle@gawker.com.