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Obama Speaks at LGBT Pride Reception at the White House: VIDEO

Obamapride

Earlier this evening, President Obama spoke at an LGBT Pride reception at the White House.

Said Obama:

Now, I don’t have to tell the people in this room we've got a ways to go in the struggle, how many people are still denied their basic rights as Americans, who are still in particular circumstances treated as second-class citizens, or still fearful when they walk down the street or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality. So you all know that we've got more work to do.

But I think it's important for us to note the progress that's been made just in the last two and a half years. I just want everybody to think about this. It was here, in the East Room, at our first Pride reception, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a few months after I took office, that I made a pledge, I made a commitment. I said that I would never counsel patience; it wasn’t right for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for folks to tell African Americans to be patient in terms of their freedoms. I said it might take time to get everything we wanted done. But I also expected to be judged not by the promises I made, but the promises I kept.

Watch Obama's full remarks and read the transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

Here's the transcript:

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT RECEPTION OBSERVING LGBT PRIDE MONTH

East Room

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)  

Nothing ruins a good party like a long speech from a politician.  (Laughter.)  So I'm going to make a short set of remarks here.  I appreciate all of you being here.  I have learned a lesson:  Don't follow Potomac Fever -- (laughter) -- because they sounded pretty good. 

We’ve got community leaders here.  We've got grassroots organizers.  We've got some incredible young people who are just doing great work all across the country -– folks who are standing up against discrimination, and for the rights of parents and children and partners and students --

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  And spouses.

THE PRESIDENT:  -- and spouses.  (Applause.)  You’re fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit.  (Applause.)

Now, I don’t have to tell the people in this room we've got a ways to go in the struggle, how many people are still denied their basic rights as Americans, who are still in particular circumstances treated as second-class citizens, or still fearful when they walk down the street or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality.  So you all know that we've got more work to do.

But I think it's important for us to note the progress that's been made just in the last two and a half years.  I just want everybody to think about this.  (Applause.)  It was here, in the East Room, at our first Pride reception, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a few months after I took office, that I made a pledge, I made a commitment.  I said that I would never counsel patience; it wasn’t right for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for folks to tell African Americans to be patient in terms of their freedoms.  I said it might take time to get everything we wanted done.  But I also expected to be judged not by the promises I made, but the promises I kept.

Now, let's just think about it.  I met with Judy Shepard.  I promised her we'd pass an inclusive hate crimes law, named after her son, Matthew.  And with the help of Ted Kennedy and others, we got it done and I signed the bill.  (Applause.)

I met Janice Lang-ben, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying, and I told her we were going to put a stop to that discrimination.  And I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid –- and that means just about every hospital in America  -– has to treat gay partners just as they have to treat straight partners.  Nobody in America should have to produce a legal contract.  (Applause.)

I said we'd lift the HIV travel ban.  We got that done.  (Applause.)  We put in place the first national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS.  (Applause.)

A lot of people said we weren’t going to be able to get "don't ask, don't tell" done, including a bunch of people in this room.  (Laughter.)  And I just met Sue Fulton, who was part of the first class of women at West Point, and is an outstanding advocate for gay service members.  It took two years through Congress -– working with Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates and the Pentagon.  We had to hold together a fragile coalition.  We had to keep up the pressure.  But the bottom line is we got it done.  And in a matter of weeks, not months, I expect to certify the change in policy –- and we will end "don't ask, don't tell" once and for all.  (Applause.)

I told you I was against the Defense -- so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  I've long supported efforts to pass a repeal through Congress.  And until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts.  The law is discriminatory.  It violates the Constitution.  It’s time for us to bring it to an end.  (Applause.) 

So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community.  I have delivered on what I promised.  Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done.  There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me.  (Laughter.)  I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change.  I understand that.  I know I can count on you to let me know.  (Laughter and applause.)  This is not a shy group.  (Laughter.)   

But what I also know is that I will continue to fight alongside you.  And I don’t just mean as an advocate.  You are moms and dads who care about the schools that your children go to.  You’re students who are trying to figure out how to pay for going to college.  You’re folks who are looking for good jobs to pay the bills.  You’re Americans who want this country to prosper.  So those are your fights, too.  And the fact is these are hard days for America.  So we’ve got a lot of work to do to, not only on ending discrimination; we’ve got a lot of work to do to live up to the ideals on which we were founded, and to preserve the American Dream in our time -– for everybody, whether they're gay or straight or lesbian or transgender. 

But the bottom line is, I am hopeful.  I’m hopeful because of the changes we’ve achieved just in these past two years.  Think about it.  It’s astonishing.  Progress that just a few years ago people would have thought were impossible.  And more than that, what gives me hope is the deeper shift that we’re seeing that’s a transformation not just in our laws but in the hearts and minds of people -- the progress led not by Washington but by ordinary citizens. 

It’s propelled not by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard and mutual respect.  It’s playing out in legislatures like New York.  (Applause.)  It’s playing out in courtrooms.  It’s playing out in the ballot box, as people argue and debate over how to bring about the changes where we are creating a more perfect union.  But it’s also happening around water coolers.  It’s happening at Thanksgiving tables.  It’s happening on Facebook and Twitter, and at PTA meetings and potluck dinners, and church halls and VFW Halls. 

It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her partner.  (Applause.)  It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they say, well, yeah, we knew that –- (laughter) -- but, you know, you’re a good soldier. It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person out there know that they’re not alone.  (Applause.) It happens when people look past their differences to understand our common humanity.

And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement.  It is the story of America, and the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union. 

I want thank you for your contribution to that story.  I’m confident we’re going to keep on writing more chapters.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)  

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Comments

  1. Don't hate me, but...I like it.

    Posted by: Rin | Jun 29, 2011 7:55:35 PM


  2. It is right on point. The man is doing as much as can in the position he is in. He is trying to remove roadblocks to allow change to happen. Any one who thinks he is not doing things to help our cause is not looking at it rationally.

    Posted by: Keith | Jun 29, 2011 7:58:55 PM


  3. A "fierce advocate" should do just that, advocate. It is nice to have a few legislative wins, as well as a ton of proclamations that have changed how the administration treats the LGBT community. It is very much appreciated and recognized.

    Before the Obama campaign comes asking for money from the community, they need to "really" start advocating and stop the walk the safe line.

    This is peoples' lives we are talking about.

    Posted by: bkmn | Jun 29, 2011 7:58:59 PM


  4. Yeah, we really need to wonder about whether he's better than, what, Republicans?

    This is a great speech, obviously self-serving but also honest. Anyone who doesn't support this man is an idiot. We cannot expect perfection in a moment's notice.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jun 29, 2011 8:06:22 PM


  5. Lesser of two evils? Yeah he is folks - welcome to politics. I'll be voting for him. If you're voting for another pro-gay candidate, good for you. Maybe it's backward logic on my part, but I'll be voting for the one that actually has a chance of winning.

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 29, 2011 8:12:56 PM


  6. It's nice to see some positive, pro-Obama comments for a change...

    Posted by: Brian | Jun 29, 2011 8:17:25 PM


  7. Our next president for 4 more years will either be THIS MAN or some Republican wingnut who wouldn't even consider giving anyone in that room the time of day.

    Think about that the next time you're asked to support Obama or the Democratic party. THINK ABOUT IT.

    Immediate perfection is impossible. I'll take what the Dem's are offering day over the other party.

    Posted by: Eaves | Jun 29, 2011 8:30:37 PM


  8. Sometimes he frustrates me, mightily. But Obama has also seen us through a great deal of change in a short amount of time --more than any president in US history. Thank you. Mr. President, for opening the doors of the White House --and your heart-- to the LGBT community. Now hop to it! There’s still a lot more to do...

    Posted by: ichabod | Jun 29, 2011 8:30:52 PM


  9. Brian, don't hold your breath. This post is still new. The negative posts are sure to follow.

    Posted by: sugarrhill | Jun 29, 2011 8:31:28 PM


  10. I sort of like Obama... but his lack of actual support for marriage (not gay marriage, as there's no difference added by the qualifier "gay") has become so obvious lately that it feels painful to listen to this speech.

    I especially don't like that he's telling us that he met his obligations to us. Let us judge that.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 29, 2011 8:37:16 PM


  11. Suggarrhill, you said it before I could.

    If they mention another pro-gay candidate who's running that they'll be voting for in their argument, I can understand an "anti-Obama" stance.

    But...that brings to my next question? Who else actually is that is likely to run? I've heard Ron Paul thrown around here a couple of times and that's patently false. Someone from the Green Party?

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 29, 2011 8:38:24 PM


  12. I give him credit for some modest accomplishments, but a "fierce advocate" he is not. Let's not forget that if he was truly our ally, he could have accomplished anything when he had a Congressional supermajority and sky-high approval ratings. He did nothing.

    His new patter of "state's rights" is the worst pandering one can imagine. Perhaps we should allow "state's rights" decisions on slavery and inter-racial marriage. How would he feel about that?

    I understand that these things take time; however, don't try to take credit for things about which your administration consistently stalled and road-blocked. Then, when they happened anyway because of court decisions, etc., then he tries to take credit?

    I give that as much credence as Newt Gingrich's beliefs about marriage. All three of his, that is.

    But, nevermind, the HRC crowd got to go to another meaningless reception. As long as that worthless group gets to don their gay apparel, that's really what's important.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Jun 29, 2011 8:41:54 PM


  13. I'm voting for Fred Karger. Happy now?

    I'm certainly not voting for Barack Obama until he states that he believes that I am as much of a human being as he is and until his every action proves that, which I do not believe will ever happen.

    That is simply NOT too much to ask from the President of The United States of America.

    Posted by: ohplease | Jun 29, 2011 8:43:42 PM


  14. I will support the President in 2012.

    But I also think it's my responsibility to demand full equality, including marriage equality, and I think it's the responsibility of every person in that room to let the President know that his current position on marriage is unjust, irrational, dishonest, and, increasingly, politically dubious. Continuing to pressure him is a sign of respect.

    Letting him off the hook shows lack of respect for our own human dignity and in the rightness of our cause and is ultimately as futile as pretending that his opponent in 2012 will be worthy of consideration. I have little fear that he'll evolve too quickly--since he's defined himself by his caution--but if he evolves too slowly then he'll miss the opportunity to make a difference. Political pressure works. No pro-gay legislation comes about without it.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 29, 2011 8:44:54 PM


  15. Randy,

    Did Obama ever explicitly promise marriage?

    I'm not defending or attacking him, I just haven't been following his 'statements'/'promises' and was genuinely curious ...

    ...or was it just worded in political doublespeak to keep our voting base on his hook while at the same time not riling up his opponents?

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 29, 2011 8:46:04 PM


  16. Ah...Fred Karger, right. Forgot about him. (Don't mean that as a cynical/sarcastic statement).

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 29, 2011 8:57:02 PM


  17. I am enraged, furious, and still feel so betrayed by this country. When will I be a full American citizen?

    Posted by: X | Jun 29, 2011 9:05:30 PM


  18. LOL, the people on here who claim they're not voting for Obama and are supporting Fred Karger or (gasp) Ron Paul most likely are Republicans and never voted for Obama the first time anyway.

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Jun 29, 2011 9:08:24 PM


  19. I chose my name for a reason: Plaintom.I believe very plain and simple truths. Any gay who doesn't vote for Obama is lending support to the anti-gay Republicans.

    Posted by: PLAINTOM | Jun 29, 2011 9:08:32 PM


  20. @Plaintom: Exactly. Thank you.

    There won't be a Democratic primary, so we have a choice between Obama and a Republican (who will NOT end up being Paul or Karger). It's that simple.

    So, let me repeat for everyone's benefit:

    Any gay who doesn't vote for Obama is lending support to the anti-gay Republicans.

    Posted by: Eaves | Jun 29, 2011 9:13:19 PM


  21. I also feel the need to defend Obama. Believe me, I wish he supported marriage equality . . . but think back to 2004. I have vivid memories of Bush campaigning (and potentially winning) on the backs of anti-gay marriage amendments. Of preaching his hate speech from the campaign stop . . . day in and day out.

    Now we have a president who hosts pride celebrations, who signed the repeal of DADT, who STOPPED DEFENDING DOMA (I think this is going to go down in history as his greatest LGBT accomplishment), etc. I'm not saying he's perfect, but he's a huge step forward. And we need to support that. We need to support him in 2012.

    Finally, practically speaking, on the federal level, does ANYONE believe a federal marriage bill could pass through congress? The only shot would be the supreme court, and both of Obama's picks have been solid liberals. I'm not sure, practically speaking, what his support would actually do for marriage equality.

    Posted by: Daniel | Jun 29, 2011 9:32:44 PM


  22. @x

    You must understand that most politicians are in unhappy, loveless, arranged for aesthetic marriages. Therefore, they probably feel like you could likewise marry someone you don't love, ergo you are equal.

    They aren't like you, they are practically bloodless creatures. I worked in DC, I know.

    Equal rights to them means you are equally allowed to be screwed by the government...and you are.

    Posted by: Rin | Jun 29, 2011 9:44:41 PM


  23. Let's be honest and very clear about something: the President is NOT just the lesser of two evils. To imply that President Obama is only mildly better on gay issues than Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty (or anyone else with a serious chance of getting the nomination) is patently absurd.

    Although I've been very disappointed by his refusal to embrace full marriage equality and was very angry that his administration was defending DOMA, the President has indeed done more for gay rights than any president in history. The hate crimes legislation and ending Don't Ask Don't Tell are not "modest" accomplishments--they are major breakthroughs in gay and lesbian civil rights. And hosting Gay Pride gatherings at the White House, although not legislation, is not trivial--it actually does impact gay issues because the President is conveying to the American public that we matter and that we are politically important.

    Finally, the President has not gone back on his word regarding marriage. He said very clearly in the campaign that he was for civil unions and against gay marriage. I don't think he really believes that, but for now that's the offial (political) position. We can be angry at him for not supporting full marriage equality, and we can and should continue to demand he support it, but we can't accuse him of failing that promise since he never made it.

    And I completely agree: any gay person who supports and votes for a Republican against Barack Obama is voting against gay rights, and is a very self-hating person.

    I thought this was a nice speech and looked like a nice event at the White House. The President said "spouse." I think that's the first time.

    Posted by: Robert | Jun 29, 2011 9:57:38 PM


  24. All I can say is how far would all of us be if it had been McCain/Palin in 2008?

    Posted by: Matt Fod | Jun 29, 2011 10:08:00 PM


  25. It is incredibly difficult to facilitate real, lasting change. It is incredibly easy to smirk and point fingers at people who try.

    Posted by: Johnny | Jun 29, 2011 10:14:03 PM


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