Delivering the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Thursday, President Obama said allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to openly serve in the military has strengthened America.
President Obama’s remarks came in the last year of his presidency and just five years after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy which expelled gay and lesbian service members.
“…America has to stand for rule of law. We live our values when our military, like America itself, truly welcomes the talents of all people. We are stronger when our gay and lesbian cadets and troops can serve their country, a country they love, without hiding who they love.”
[Obama added] The U.S. is stronger when Muslim-American cadets “know that we celebrate their service as proud, patriotic, Muslim Americans who are also serving our armed forces.”
"We’re stronger when our gay and lesbian cadets and troops can serve the country they love without hiding who they love." —@POTUS
— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) June 2, 2016
President Obama also warned against the dangers of isolationism during his speech, as USA Today reports:
“We cannot turn inward,” Obama told the Air Force cadets. “We cannot give in to isolationism.”
While he did not specifically mention Trump or the political campaign, the president did respond to Republican critics who have questioned American commitments to alliances like NATO and opposed international agreements like the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Protesting the Republican-run Senate’s refusal to approve that latter treaty, Obama said that “it’s time for the Senate to do its job and help us advance American leadership, rather than undermine it.”
Watch Obama’s comments on lesbian and gay cadets, below.
You can watch his full address, here.