DOMA Repeal Endorsed, Promise Kept – On Scene with Bill Wilson

Maria Shriver rolling up her sleeves as First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to the crowd
at Bret Harte Elementary School before they both helped install playground equipment.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

By Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2011

Today when I read that the President has endorsed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) I felt a special twinge of pride. It bought to mind the hug and promise I got from First Lady Michelle Obama when she participated with Maria Shriver in a playground build at Bret Harte Elementary School in June, 2009. As she walked down the line shaking hands and greeting people I was able to have the following exchange.

Bill Wilson: My husband and I have been together 23 years. We need to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michelle Obama: I agree.

Bill Wilson: We need it done now.

Michelle Obama: It will be.

Bill Wilson: I really want to be able to support him.

Michelle Obama: As well you should!

Bill Wilson: We really do want him to succeed.

Michelle Obama: I’ll tell him

(At this point she leaned over to give me a hug.)

As she stepped away I said, “We were married by the Mayor last year.”

Michelle Obama: Give your husband a hug from me.

Rick Jacob founder of the Courage Campaign December 6, 2010
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

Rick Jacobs founder of the Courage Campaign told of how he learned the news in a statement released this morning, “We are delighted that today, on the eve of a historic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, President Obama endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act. It is rare that a White House endorses a bill that has yet to pass first in either the Senate or the House. President Obama’s decision to do so underscores the urgency with which the Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. His support makes clear to all Americans that the Defense of Marriage Act has no place in our society.

Earlier this month, over 25,000 Courage Campaign members signed a letter asking the President to support this legislation. At a White House reception on June 29, the President indicated to me that he would endorse the bill. His exact words to me were, ‘I support repeal of DOMA. You know where I stand.’

This morning, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, called me referring to my conversation with the president to say that today was the day and that Jay Carney would announce the White House’s support for the bill. The members of the Courage Campaign are thrilled.

See Related: Obama to endorse Respect for Marriage Act – Hearing tomorrow – Act today

See Related On Scene with Bill Wilson Archive

Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past seven years. Email Bill Wilson at

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