By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
While delivering the keynote address at the annual fundraising dinner for one of the world’s most radical homosexual activist organizations this weekend, President Barack Obama made sweeping promises to the homosexual community, including his intent to sign hate crimes legislation, to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy and the Defense of Marriage Act. He also pledged his continued support for embattled homosexual nominees Kevin Jennings and Chai Feldblum.
While speaking to a crowd of almost 3,000 homosexual activists at the annual Human Rights Campaign fund raising dinner on Saturday evening, President Obama boldly proclaimed homosexuality-based relationships to be “just as real and admirable” as normal relationships between a man and a woman.
“For nearly 30 years, you’ve advocated for those without a voice,” the president said during his address. “Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open.”
His promise to end the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which prevents homosexuals from serving in the military, was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country,” Obama said. “We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage … especially when we are fighting two wars.”
The president also backed the rights of same-sex couples, saying they deserved to have the “same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country,” and said he is urging Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and to pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.
He also mentioned protection against hate crimes, noting the controversial legislation which has little public support, that passed in the House this week. “I can announce that after more than a decade, this bill is set to pass and I will sign it into law,” he promised.
The president then went on to address the criticism being leveled against him by gay activists who believe he has not delivered on his many promises.
“I appreciate that many of you don’t believe progress has come fast enough,” Obama said. “Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach.”
During his speech, the president also took the opportunity to defend two of his most embattled nominees, gay activists Kevin Jennnings, the gay activist who is now the nation’s “Safe School Czar” and Chair Feldblum, nominated to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Jennings, who founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which promotes homosexuality in schools, has been under fire for once telling a 15 year old student who admitted to having sex with an older man to “wear a condom.”
Chai Feldblum is a radical Georgetown Law School professor who teaches gay studies and thinks freedom of religion should be subordinate to sexual equality. She is the primary author of the pro-gay/transsexual bill known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is being pushed again in Congress.
“Nobody in America should be fired because they’re gay, despite doing a great job and meeting their responsibilities,” the president said during his speech. “It’s not fair, it’s not right, we’re going to put a stop to it. 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.”
While the president’s speech was regarded warmly by the gay community, it did not appease their hunger for real change.
The Huffington Post reports that Richard Socarides, who advised Clinton’s administration on gay and lesbian policy, said Obama delivered “a strong speech in tone, although only vaguely reassuring in content.”
“The president and Nobel winner came and paid his respects, but tomorrow many will ask: What’s his plan, what’s his timetable?”
Pioneer activist Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, said Obama delivered a brilliant speech, but added “it lacked the answer to our most pressing question, which is when.”
“He repeated his promises that he’s made to us before, but he did not indicate when he would accomplish these goals and we’ve been waiting for a while now,” Jones said.
The only thing standing in the way of the President’s gay agenda seems to be the American public. A recent national poll found that almost half of all Americans think homosexual relations are immoral and more than half do not believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
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