President Obama received a warm welcome at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner tonight, where he promised to sign hate crimes legislation — which just passed the House — into law and repeal both Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, although he didn’t outline a specific timeline. Acknowledging some frustrations that there hasn’t been quicker action on these issues, Obama reiterated that he remains committed to the fight for LGBT equality:
OBAMA: This story, this fight, continues, now, and I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight. (APPLAUSE)
For even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot and we will not put aside issues of basic equality. I greatly appreciate the support I’ve received from many in this room. I also appreciate that many of you don’t believe that progress has come fast enough. I want to be honest about that. (APPLAUSE) Because it’s important to be honest amongst friends.
Obama also addressed right-wing criticisms being hurled at his LGBT nominees and staffers, such as EEOC nominee Chai Feldblum and Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. Both have been the subjects of extremely homophobic slurs. WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farrah said that Obama must find “people” like Feldblum on “Perverts.gov,” and the Traditional Values Coalition wrote that she wanted “the gay agenda to trump the First Amendment and religious freedom.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has claimed that Jennings wants to push a “homosexual agenda” in U.S. schools.
While Obama didn’t specifically point to any of his nominees, he strongly reiterated his support for them and condemned homophobic slurs:
OBAMA: For the first time ever, an administration official testified in Congress in favor of this law. Nobody in America should be fired because they’re gay, despite doing a great job and meeting their responsibilities. It’s not fair, it’s not right, we’re going to put a stop to it. (APPLAUSE)
And it’s for this reason if any of my nominees are attacked not for what they believe but for who they are, I will not waver in my support because I will not waver in my commitment to ending discrimination in all its forms. (APPLAUSE)
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