Barack Obama | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Gay Rights | Human Rights Campaign | News

Obama Commits to Work for LGBT Equality, Offers No New Promises

Appearing before a packed and welcoming room at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner in Washington, President Obama delivered a speech strong on rhetoric that did not make any new promises or commitments. In his strongest language to date he promised the crowd, as he has in the past, that he would end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but did not offer any timeline for doing so.


Obamahrc Obama spoke about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and promised to defend any of his employees from attacks based on who they are, a likely reference to Safe Schools Chief Kevin Jennings, who has been under attack from anti-gay right-wing and religious groups. He also trumpeted recent House passage of a federal hate crimes bill and promised to sign it once it reaches his desk.

Obama also did not directly reference Question 1 in Maine or Referendum 71 in Washington state, two ballot measures that would remove rights from LGBT citizens on either coast, but offered broader promises to fight against the lies and divisiveness of foes of equality, suggesting that religion-based bigotry has no place in the national debate.

The President discussed his commitment to gay and lesbian families, using as an example his invitation to allow them to roll Easter Eggs at the White House.

The most amusing moment of Obama's speech came at its opening, when the President said, "It is a privilege to be here tonight to open for Lady Gaga." Finally, the President said that "friends should be able to be honest with one another" and he supports those who hold his feet and those of Congressional leaders to the fire over campaign promises.

What are your thoughts on the speech? 


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  1. I thought it was a great speech...if he just would have encouraged the approval of Ref. 71 in Washington and for voters in Maine to vote no on 1...there is no doubt in my mind that those states would have had victories for equality come November. I don't think that's too much to ask him to do.

    Posted by: Josh | Oct 10, 2009 9:54:41 PM

  2. Egg Rolling????


    That's the "fierce advocate of gay rights?"

    This was a complete cluster **** of ginormous proportions.

    Insulting and angering is what it was.

    Yes, he wants to get re-elected. Too bad he's blowing more gay votes than he can count as sand through his hourglass.

    Looks like that Nobel Peace Prize was actually a call to Inaction, hmmm?

    Posted by: Darren | Oct 10, 2009 9:56:06 PM

  3. I am beyond furious!!!! That speech was nothing but words and promises!!!

    Just kidding. What else did you people expect from a "speech"? I mean, what "substance" was his speech lacking? He can't set a deadline, because he has no authority of congress's schedule. All he can do is pledge his support for our cause, and refocus and re-emphasis his determination.

    He could have mentioned his opposition to the Maine ballot measure, but his opposition toward prop 8 didn't do anything for him or the cause, plus only activists are going to be watching this speech. Not undecided Maine voters.

    Simmer down.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Oct 10, 2009 9:56:44 PM

  4. To me, the easiest thing for Obama to have done tonight to show real action--rather than rattle off a bunch of as yet unfulfilled campaign promises--would've been to announce an immediate moratorium on discharges under DADT. Some kind of quantifiable action around LGBT issues needs to happen, and tonight would've been the premiere venue to announce something of magnitude. But, instead, we have another trail of bread crumbs leading us to "Some Day." And no mention of Washington or Maine (another Prop 8 deception in the making.) Sigh...

    Posted by: Kergan | Oct 10, 2009 9:59:39 PM

  5. Everyone needs to calm down! After 8 years of being used to inflame ther masses under the Bush Adminstration, can't we sit back and enjoy this moment! Not only did he renew his pledge to end Don't Ask Don't Tell... but he spoke to the LGBT crowd with repect. This speech reeminded me of why I was emotionally moved on Election day. Rome wasn't built in a day, and Equality takes time.

    Posted by: ADAM | Oct 10, 2009 10:00:07 PM

  6. Ok... Name a civil rights cause that ever got everything it wanted ALL at once.

    The line of malcontents willing to settle for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory - is forming behind David Mixer -
    AGAIN -just as it did when his guy BILL hatched the DADT mess.

    Meanwhile the rest of us are going to get some "wins" on the board for a change.

    Now I understand why so little has been accomplished in making gains in our civil rights over the last 40 years.

    The wrong people in our community have had the mic.

    Posted by: Rich LaHaye | Oct 10, 2009 10:03:14 PM

  7. I'm a first time poster, here. I always come to this sight to get the clearest picture of what is going on in the GLBT community. I knew I could come here and see the speech in it's entirety, not just the clips and soundbites that will no doubt be twisted all over the airwaves.

    All I know is that it makes me happy that my children are starting their adulthood with a President in office that will support their right to be who they are and love who they love. I cannot imagine how my generation would be different if such a thing was even imaginable during the Reagan years. There is a lot here to be proud of.

    Posted by: PLAG parent | Oct 10, 2009 10:03:48 PM

  8. The man who has fired almost 300 soldiers solely for being gay or lesbian says no one should be fired for being gay or lesbian. And the crowd cheered. Doesn't anyone else thinks that's just bizarre?

    Posted by: Eric | Oct 10, 2009 10:04:32 PM

  9. The problem here isn't the words President Obama is espousing its the fact a lot of us actually realize that as President and Commander and Chief, President Obama by the Supreme Law of The Land (A.k.a. The Constitution of the United States of America) is granted absolute authority over the discharge of any and all soldiers in the military. Separation of powers exists to protect us from what happened (Congress trying to enact a LAW that restricts a power). Furthermore, in time of war, the President's powers are greatly enhanced (for good reason). It is completely within his power to suspend discharges under DADT and yet he isn't doing it. This is why a lot of us in the GLBT community are upset. To hear him be such and advocate and then turn around and not use his position to enact DECISIVE change is heart-breaking to say the least. While Obama waits for CONGRESS to act to pass a law that gives him back the powers to be Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces, many peoples lives are being destroyed. (Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach & 1st LT Dan Choi are just 2 of the hundreds of people this is affecting)
    Yes, President Obama gets kudos for being so vocal, but as Americans we were given the right to demand action thru protest. If every group of people (From the suffragettes to the black civil rights movement) listened to people who said "don't act" "Now's not the right time" "The President WILL act..." Women and blacks would not be in the position they are in today.

    Posted by: Jim in MN | Oct 10, 2009 10:04:48 PM

  10. Bitch away, that's what you all do best. What'cha gonna do, vote for Palin in 2012?

    Posted by: john | Oct 10, 2009 10:06:03 PM

  11. And to the people who think the president should just ignore a congressional order, and issue a moratorium on DADT...

    How short-sighted can you be?

    Do you really want "President Palin" (yikes) or "President Huckabee" (double yikes) to have the presidential authority to just overrule the congress and his/her will? Deciding to put a "moratorium" on ENDA lawsuits or hate crime prosecutions (Both of which will pass under Obama).

    That thought is 10 times more frightening to me than waiting a few months for congress to act.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Oct 10, 2009 10:06:46 PM

  12. While I would like for him to go faster on acting on things, we also need to remember that he has been in office for nine months in the middle of a recession and health care debate, while handling two wars. Folks be happy he is saying at least something about and to us. At least he is staying at the White House for the March.

    Folks, what matters is that gay rights are on his priorities, and right now #1-5 are taking up his time. If you want to say that gay rights should be his #1 priority then you need to reassess yourself, and look what is going on in the world.

    For those who think a Republican in office would have been better, perhaps you should remember that they are actively trying to take our rights away rather than not producing that much nine months into their first term.

    Posted by: Steven | Oct 10, 2009 10:10:21 PM

  13. Aaron: Do you really want the Congress to be passing LAWS that supercede the Constitution of the United States and the separation of Powers? Because thats what DADT is, as is DOMA. In order to do the things that DOMA and DADT are doing requires a constitutional AMENDMENT - not a law.

    Posted by: Jim in MN | Oct 10, 2009 10:12:05 PM

  14. If you believe that Jim, then the appropriate redress is bring forward a federal constitutional challenge to DADT.

    You know, the way it's been done for the last 200 years.

    No one is above the Constitution.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Oct 10, 2009 10:15:05 PM

  15. "Be patient.. it's not the right time.. there are more important things... why are you being so selfish... "

    The right time = NEVER

    Be patient = shut up, stop rocking the boat

    There are more important things = I don't care about your equality

    You're being selfish = learn your place, faggot

    The biggest impediment to gay rights are fairweather faggots and straight "allies" who don't see a problem with us riding in the back of the bus until the end of time, as long as they get theirs.

    Posted by: Grimmlok | Oct 10, 2009 10:16:05 PM

  16. TROG SEZ: "Anyone else plagued by a neverending sense of frustration and anger since the Nov. 4 election?

    Damned if I have figured out how to channel it into something productive--no, I don't think a march will yield results (besides, I've already been to a million of them). Instead, I donated money to the Maine marriage cause."


    Funny you should mention that. A day or two after Prop 8 lost, I quit my job. I couldn't stomach going back to work amidst an office of Prop 8 supporters.

    Damned if I haven't been an unproductive second-class citizen ever since.

    Obama's freakiest critics on the right say they "want there country back". Well, here's one gay man on the left who wants his country and state back too. Obama has done nothing to help this gay American.

    Posted by: adamblast | Oct 10, 2009 10:19:37 PM

  17. The speech by President Obama was a great one, one that the American people have heard before. Hopefully, this speech will be highlighted after the fact he won the Nobel Peace Prize and reach out to a larger audience.

    We should keep in mind, this President is the first to show signs of support and willingness to work toward full equality. Our fear come from what happened to us during the Clinton year with potential promises that lead to DADT and DOMA. So that fear of Obama not showing any signs of progress is justified based upon the past.

    I believe one of the problems is that Obama is relying and using HRC to reach out the LGBT community. And HRC is a lobbying group has lost it's way on its mission and purpose. The HRC does not speak for all LGBT people. Today's speech, Joe Solmonese has that huge picture of himself next to him as he introduced the President which was pompous.

    It's time for President Obama to use other opportunities outside the HRC to reach out and work further with the LGBT community.

    Posted by: ChauHercules | Oct 10, 2009 10:24:28 PM

  18. Same shit, different day. What else is there to say? Under his administration almost 450 men and women have been discharged under DADT and he hasn't done a damned thing to stop it. He's a bloody hypocrite, plain and simple.

    Great Obama plan on LGBT rights...pander to the house queers of the HRC and to hell with the rest of us, hope we re-elect him on 2012 and maybe we'll have some shred of equality by 2017.

    I'm not holding my breath and I'm sure as hell not voting for him in 2012. I'd rather not vote at all.

    Posted by: DR | Oct 10, 2009 10:26:51 PM

  19. Joe Solo-sleaze must have creamed her panties when Obama caller her "His good friend"

    Posted by: Wolfie | Oct 10, 2009 10:27:05 PM

  20. Come on, this is getting obscene.

    Your co-workers were homophobes, so you quit your job. What on earth does that have to do with Obama or Prop 8?

    And what does "here's one gay man on the left who wants his country and state back too." mean? When did you have your country and who took it away from you?

    Just because the Right is full of tea-baggers and nut jobs (ironic turn of phrase), doesn't mean we have to lose our collective minds on the other side.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Oct 10, 2009 10:27:47 PM

  21. The Dinner must be over. All the HRC people here doing damage control.

    Posted by: Wolfie | Oct 10, 2009 10:28:26 PM

  22. The changes he is promising caNNOT happen over night. There is no magic policy changing fairy wand. You haters better hope your wrong with giving up on him, because if it isn't him that changes things, there won't be another given the chance to change things.

    Any thing that can change over night can be changed back that quickly too.

    Posted by: Clinton | Oct 10, 2009 10:37:05 PM

  23. "the changes cannot happen overnight"

    No, it's only been DECADES. And it hasn't been overnight, it's been almost a year for Obama.

    What has he done to rectify the equal rights issue? Tell me. What has he done to move the ball forward.

    Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

    Posted by: Grimmlok | Oct 10, 2009 10:47:43 PM

  24. Finally an ally in the White House. I understand that many of you are impatient but just imagine George W. Bush giving this speech or George H. W. Bush giving this speech. It was inconceivable. Not for Obama. For Obama we have greater expectations, greater hope, greater desire. All this is good.

    Posted by: Daniel Valdes | Oct 10, 2009 11:09:41 PM

  25. All the negative Nellies on this site are an embarrassment to gay people. We have never had a bigger friend and more thoughtful President on our issues in the White House, and all you do is attack him. He was nothing but supportive and well-intentioned in his speech tonight, and words, especially from the President of the United States DO MATTER. Give the guy a freakin' chance. He can't do it all by himself, he's just the president, which is why so many people need to continue working tirelessly. There are still so many hearts and minds to change, so much work for *us* to do.

    Posted by: RJNYC | Oct 10, 2009 11:13:10 PM

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