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Obama to LGBTs: ‘I Need Your Help’

Obama to LGBTs: ‘I Need Your Help’
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President Obama on Saturday evening delivered a keynote speech to a group of over 3,000 LGBT rights advocates at the Human Rights Campaign’s 15th Annual HRC National Dinner. During his speech, Obama called for action on the Employment Non Discrimination Act and an end to the Defense of Marriage Act but said that to make these changes a reality, and to continue progress in America as a whole, he would need the help and support of the LGBT community.

The President did, however, start his speech on a lighter note:

I see a lot of friends in the house. I appreciate the chance to join you tonight. I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga. (Laughter.) She was wearing 16-inch heels. (Laughter.) She was eight feet tall. (Laughter.) It was a little intimidating.

From there, President Obama moved to highlighting the administration’s considerable achievements, especially the administrations strong advocacy for a repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy:

Many questioned whether we’d succeed in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress. (Applause.) We had to hold a coalition together. We had to keep up the pressure. We took some flak along the way. (Applause.) But with the help of HRC, we got it done. And “don’t ask, don’t tell” is history. (Applause.) And all over the world, there are men and women serving this country just as they always have — with honor and courage and discipline and valor. We got it done. (Applause.) We got that done. All around the world, you’ve got gays and lesbians who are serving, and the only difference is now they can put up a family photo. (Laughter.) No one has to live a lie to serve the country they love.

With this President Obama did however overlook trans servicemembers who must continue to live closeted in the military because the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” did not benefit them.

Obama then went on to trumpet the administration’s historic decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

Particularly poignant however were Obama’s words when it came to the administration’s anti-bullying advocacy work:

And together, we also have to keep sending a message to every young person in this country who might feel alone or afraid because they’re gay or transgender — who may be getting picked on or pushed around because they’re different. We’ve got to make sure they know that there are adults they can talk to; that they are never alone; that there is a whole world waiting for them filled with possibility. That’s why we held a summit at the White House on bullying. That’s why we’re going to continue to focus on this issue. (Applause.) This isn’t just “kids being kids.” It’s wrong. It’s destructive. It’s never acceptable. And I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. (Applause.) I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and they’re not by themselves. That’s what I want them to know. (Applause.)

This was clearly also a campaign speech. Not only did Obama call on the HRC crowd to help in the fight for LGBT rights, he also highlighted the administration’s new legislation to tackle America’s economic situation, appealing to the crowd not just as LGBT people but also as American citizens who share the same concerns as everyone else:

Now, I also need your help in the broader fight to get this economy back on track. You may have heard, I introduced a bill called the American Jobs Act. (Applause.) It’s been almost three weeks since I sent it up to Congress. That’s three weeks longer than it should have taken to pass this common-sense bill. (Applause.) This is a bill filled with ideas that both parties have supported — tax breaks for companies that hire veterans; road projects; school renovations; putting construction crews back to work rebuilding America; tax cuts for middle-class families so they can make ends meet and spend a little more at local stores and restaurants that need the business.

Now, you may have heard me say this a few times before — I’ll say it again: Pass the bill. (Applause.) Enough gridlock. Enough delay. Enough politics. Pass this bill. Put this country back to work. (Applause.) HRC, you know how Congress works. I’m counting on you to have my back. Go out there and get them to pass this bill. (Applause.) Let’s put America back to work.

Typically, Obama chose to end in his usual rousing oratory fashion, invoking the very public coming out of airman Randy Phillips and the creation of the It Gets Better project and tying these things together, not just as important moments for the LGBT community, but as characteristic moments of the American story:

It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her wife. (Applause.) It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they tell him they knew it all along and they didn’t care, because he was the toughest guy in the unit. (Applause.) It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person know they’re not alone, and things will get better. It happens when people look past their ultimately minor differences to see themselves in the hopes and struggles of their fellow human beings. That’s where change is happening. (Applause.)

And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement. That’s the story of America — (applause) — the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union. (Applause.) You are contributing to that story, and I’m confident we can continue to write another chapter together.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)

You can watch a video of President Obama’s speech below:

NEXT PAGE: Read the full transcript of President Obama’s speech.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to VJnet.

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11:06AM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Dolores M.! My apologies for thinking you were a Republican! I just took your comment that way but I do agree with what you wrote! I just don't really know who will fit that spot from what has been presented so far in the way of Presidential candidates! Since I don't find any of the candidates particularly smart but not bought by corporations, I am backing Obama! Maybe if Romny doesn't start talking like the tea party, then he MIGHT be someone to support!

4:19AM PDT on Oct 5, 2011


I feel so happy steps are being taken.

This is change, people!

Tell your kids, "do, do not, and can" and eventually learn "should, shouldn't and ought to"!

Shaping the new generation! YAY!

6:49PM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

We voted for you, we continue to support your and now we want the change that was promised. We want term limits for all politicians, there should be no such thing as a "career politician". We want to be represented as well as the Koch brothers are represented. We want to make coercion of politicians, by making them sign pledges to garner support, illegal. We want everyone to pay their fair share of taxes, and if corporations are people, they should pay again. We want everyones rights protected, not just LGBTs and other minority groups. We want the 1% that is profiting from the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Congress to be brought to task and shown the error of their ways. In short, we want our democracy back, and that doesn't mean some right wing theocracy, it means what our founding fathers proposed, equal rights for all.

3:26PM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

@Phil S....nice try...I'll have to give you points, it's very original. Let me know if it works...

2:41PM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

It's been said before that the first term is for getting elected to the second term and that's when the real pushes happen. The president, who ever he is looks to make his legacy appear.

Welcome to Obama 2.0! I can't wait for him to get stared on his campaign promises from 1.0! It's why I voted for him in the first place. Oh, and don't please don't forget, he asked people to hold his feet to the fire if he didn't produce.

Get ready to light those torches and work against all the Tea Party people that got voted in last go round.

12:34PM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Any gay person who considers voting for one of Obama's Republican opponents should have his or her head examined. The Republican party is on the record opposing marriage equality and the repeal of DADT, and for several in the Republican field even that's not hateful enough.

So, in view of the alternative, Obama deserves the support of LGBT voters.

That said, for a man whose parents could not legally be married in all 50 states at the time of his birth to declare that his position on same sex marriage is "evolving" is pretty close to obscene. Has Obama learned nothing from the earlier civil rights struggle without which he could never have been elected president?

Now, Steve R., ACORN ceased to exist a year ago, so would you at least consider dropping them from your rants? Surely you can do better than attacking an organization that's no longer in business.

And, Dawid... If, as you say, Obama is scraping the bottom of the barrel in seeking LGBT support, watch out! That's where you live isn't it?

11:44AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

The man's a good politician and I am glad he is working towards a more inclusive equal rights agenda for the country. I'm torn though on one hand that he will work to compromise but on the other that he hasn't called the other side on their big agenda to oust him.

11:38AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Watching the President's speach brought tears to my eyes. This man has done more to fight Bigotry and intolerance than any leader in history. He has my back and I have his. I will do everything I can to ensure that he can carry on the fight to bring equality to all Americans. He is also fighting a reluctant congress to put Americans back to work.
Bigots, your days are numbered. Your reprehensible behavior will no longer be tolerated in modern Amercia. Craw back into your caves and hide your petty beliefs from tolerant, polite, society.

11:32AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Is the elected rep or president need to bring this specific issue to social problem while had terriable problems with the administration itself? I guess vote seems more attactive than down to earth matters. I am not in favour his comment, sorry, wrong priority at wrong time!

11:04AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

He is doing the best he can cleaning up the mess made by 8 long grueling years of the retard george bush. He has alot of work to do but do any of you think a repulsive republican is going to do any better? The answer is HELL NO!!! Obama is the REAL warrior in the fight against terrorism. And By The Way: Gays will never be repressed. Deal with it folks.

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