Obama lauds equal rights — but stops short at gay marriageBreaking News, Top Highlights Friday, June 24th, 2011
President Obama spoke at a Democratic National Committee event in New York yesterday and addressed a crowd of prominent LGBT constituents with a speech designed to galvanize campaign support and recognize the impact of the administration’s equal rights and anti-discrimination efforts made on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
After thanking the gathered crowd and mentioning certain notable attendees and participants by name (including MC Neil Patrick Harris, whom the president acknowledged as “openly terrific”), Mr. Obama discussed economic recovery, job creation, troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, healthcare reform and other pertinent issues; but it was his remarks concerning equal rights for same-sex couples that roused – and in some cases, disappointed – his audience the most.
“It is our work to make sure that we are living up to a simple American value: We’re all created equal,” Obama said as he launched into the matter of LGBT equality. “Ever since I entered public life…I believed that discriminating against people was wrong. I had no choice. I was born that way,” he continued, inciting laughter and applause from the crowd.
The president went on to explain that he has always believed and continues to argue that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity runs counter “to who we are as people” and constituted a fundamental violation of our nation’s founding principles.
“I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” he said at last, to a round of applause. However, when Obama began reciting the administrations accomplishments on behalf of those rights – including extended hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategies, DADT repeal and discontinued defense of DOMA – audience members began reacting to the one, critical word that remained notably absent from the president’s vocabulary.
Chants of “marriage” soon filled the room, interrupting President Obama’s speech and prompting a good-natured but – at least according to some – ultimately unsatisfactory response.
“I heard you guys,” the president said, laughing and adding, “that’s why we’re going to keep on fighting until the law no longer treats committed partners who’ve been together for decades like they’re strangers.”
Obama went on to elaborate on the unconstitutional nature of DOMA, the administration’s continuing efforts to repeal DADT, and the current battle to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of New York. He did not, however, go so far as to endorse gay marriage. According to the New York Times’ coverage of the DNC event, White House spokesmen say the president’s stance on same-sex marriage is currently “evolving;” but for some gay rights advocates and attendees at yesterday’s event, Obama’s failure to come out for gay marriage was a significant disappointment.
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