President Obama speaks at the HRC dinner in Washington
On Saturday, President Barack Obama spoke at the 15th annual dinner held by the United States’ largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
This was the second time that Obama has delivered the keynote address at the HRC dinner, first doing so in 2009.
Obama opened his speech with a humorous quip saying, “I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga.”
He went on to highlight his administration’s success in working towards LGBT equality including the recall of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and his efforts to bring an end to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages licensed in individual US states.
The president also addressed young people in America who face homophobic bullying.
“I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and they’re not by themselves.”
Obama commented on the booing of a gay soldier by the audience at a recent debate between Republicans who aim to stand against Obama for the presidency next year. At the event, none of the presidential candidates condemned the booing.
“We don’t 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,” said Obama.
“We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens… 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.”
There was, however, some disappointment that Obama didn’t come out in direct support of full same-sex marriage rights in his speech, although he has welcomed the legalisation of gay marriage in New York in June.
Obama, who supports civil unions for same-sex couples, has previously said that his position on gay marriage is “evolving.”
HRC President Joe Solmonese praised Obama after the dinner, saying that the president had “reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to LGBT Americans”.
Watch Obama’s address at the HRC dinner below (the president appears about 10 mintutes into the video).