In the wake of this week’s US Supreme Court rulings in two key equal marriage cases, President Obama said in a speech that he believes all marriages should be valid across state borders.

Both US Supreme Court rulings yesterday saw 5-4 Justices in favour of same sex couples. The first case saw Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) struck down. DOMA, passed in 1996, federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman only.

In the second case, around California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court ruled that such a ruling was not in its jurisdiction, nor was it in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court, which previously ruled, therefore deferring the decision to a previous ruling by a district court which decided the ban was unconstitutional. 

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Africa, the President said: “People should be treated equally and that’s a principal that I think applies universally.”

He went on to say his administration is now going investigating the implications of the DOMA ruling, in order to be able to allow gay couples the same, universal, rights as straight couples.

“I believe at the root of who we are as a people as Americans is the basic represent that we are all equal under the law,” he continued. “We believe in basic fairness. and what I think yesterday’s ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody.”

Paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, who is in critical condition in hospital, Obama said: “If and when he passes from this place, his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages.”

During the trip, President Obama made calls for tolerance whilst on a visit to Senegal, which were strongly rejected by the country’s president.

Prior to leaving, phoned plaintiffs in both cases to tell them “you guys should be very proud of today.”