The high court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied legally married gay and lesbian spouses a raft of federal benefits. It left in place a ruling that struck down California's voter-enacted Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman. Both rulings were 5-4.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president called the plaintiffs from Air Force One.
"The first [call] was to Edie Windsor," Carney said. "Edie is the plaintiff in United States vs. Windsor in the Defense of Marriage Act. And the president congratulated her on this victory, which was a long time in the making, said he was heartened by the court's decision to strike down Section 3 of DOMA so that loving, committed couples could enjoy full equality under the law. And, he said, that it is fitting that this historic ruling should come today, just 10 years after the court struck down laws making same-sex relationships illegal in Lawrence vs. Texas."
Carney said Obama "called Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, and the plaintiffs and legal team involved with the Proposition 8 case -- it was one call on speaker phone -- and congratulated them on a tremendous victory today. He noted that although the court did not address the constitutionality of Proposition 8, today's ruling is a victory for Kris [Perry], Sandy [Stier], Paul [Katami] and Jeff [Zarrillo] -- these are plaintiffs in Prop 8 -- and to all loving, committed couples in the state of California."
Carney said Obama was notified of the rulings by White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler.
"He was obviously pleased," Carney said of Obama. "He believes that this is a very good day for civil rights in our country and was just glad to see the decisions come down as they did."