President Obama reiterated his accomplishments for the LGBT community during his address to the Human Rights Campaign tonight, and called out the Republican presidential candidates for not condemning the booing of a gay soldier. But Obama failed to evolve in favor of full marriage equality or lay out a roadmap for advancing the political goals of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
“We dont’ believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders, one of whom, could end up being the president of the United States being silent when an American soldier is booed,” Obama said, referring to a recent incident at a GOP presidential debate:
OBAMA: We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We dont’ believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander in chief, you can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States even when it’s not politically convenient. “
Generally, Obama’s address was high on the rhetoric of equality, but low on the specifics for meeting it. He endorsed ending DOMA and passing an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act without establishing benchmarks for achieving those priorities. He didn’t mention his evolving position on marriage equality, even as he proclaimed that “every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society.” Nor did he reference the anti-marriage initiatives on the ballots in North Carolina and Minnesota or lay out a more comprehensive equality agenda for his second term.
Obama detailed his accomplishments — from signing hate crimes legislation, to hospital visitation, lifting the HIV travel ban, repealing DADT and ending the defense of DOMA — and admitted that “we have more work to do” and that the LGBT community and its allies have “every right to push against the slow pace of change.” And as he closed his speech by weaving LGBT priorities into his overall agenda of job creation, LGBT advocates prepared to take him up on the challenge.
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