Updated 12:52 p.m.
President Barack Obama directed Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Wednesday to ensure the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act is implemented "swiftly and smoothly."
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law," Obama said in a written statement issued about 90 minutes after the ruling. "The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it."
Obama said he told Holder to work with other cabinet members "to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly."
"On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital," Obama said in the statement. "How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.
"The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free," Obama said.
The Justice Department issued a statement from Holder, who is traveling out of Washington today, saying he would work with the administration and calling the ruling "an enormous triumph for equal protection under the law for all Americans."
"This decision impacts a broad array of federal laws," Holder said in the statement. "Despite this momentous victory, our nation's journey – towards equality, opportunity, and justice for everyone in this country – is far from over. Important, life-changing work remains before us.
"And, as we move forward in a manner consistent with the court's ruling, the Department of Justice is committed to continuing this work, and using every tool and legal authority available to us to combat discrimination and to safeguard the rights of all Americans," Holder said.