Wednesday saw President Obama address crowds at a White House LGBT Pride month reception.
In his speech, Obama listed the administration’s achievements such as passing the Matthew Shepard Act, ending the HIV travel ban and in passing the legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He then said something very particular and very noticeable:
“I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community.”
Obama quickly went on to say that there was, of course, still a lot of progress to be made, but this is an president mindful of his re-election campaign, who knows the importance of appearing robust and reminding voters of the achievements he has made. Perhaps overselling, to some, the administration’s progress, Obama couched his muscular rhetoric in his usual crowd pleasing manner by focusing on the big concepts of American freedom, the American Dream and, also, by borrowing a little shine from New York’s recent marriage equality victory:
“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.”
You can watch the full speech below:
The administration’s precarious position on same-sex marriage, while perhaps legally consistent, continues to be an albatross, as was shown at a Thursday presser where Obama’s ”evolving” gay marriage stance had to be talked around. You can read more on that here.
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