July 1, 2009

Countering criticism that he's done little on gay rights, President Obama commemorated the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern movement by welcoming its leaders to the White House and reaffirming his commitment to their top priorities.

This is what happens when Obama's voting block protests about how he has not lived up to his end of the bargain. He won't listen to any criticism from those of us who still want America to succeed, but plenty of time to pander to his voters!

The President was quick to point out: "You have our support," meaning this core Democratic constituency will see a number of benefits for their cause as the days go by.  He and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a cocktail-and-appetizer reception in the East Room for gay pride month. It's been some four decades since the police raid on New York City's gay Stonewall Inn that spurred gay rights activism across the country.

As activists work to change minds and change laws, Obama said: "I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you."

Since Obama took office in January, some activists have complained that Obama has not followed through on his campaign promises on issues they hold dear and has not championed their causes from the White House, including ending the ban on gays in the military.  The President has pleaded for patience.

He told the crowd "I know many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough. And I understand that." He went on to say that he expects and hopes to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by promises that his administration keeps.

It was interesting to note that Mr. Obama said that he thought the gay community "will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."  The crowd erupted in cheers.

He noted that he has issued a presidential memorandum expanding some federal benefits to same-sex partners. Critics have noted that it doesn't include health benefits or pension guarantees.

Obama also reminded the audience that he has called on Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits how state, local and federal bodies can recognize partnerships and determine benefits. Still, he added that the administration has a duty to uphold existing law.  However he said "I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate existing divides."

He said that does not mean he doesn't back a repeal of the law. Obama also said the administration is working to pass an employee nondiscrimination bill and a hate crimes bill that includes protections for gays and lesbian, and he said it's committed to rescinding a ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status.

Obama reiterated his support for repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they don't disclose their sexual orientation or act on it.  He said he doesn't believe the policy makes the United State more secure, and he said his administration is working with Congress to develop a plan that will end the practice legislatively in a way that ensures the new policy works in the long term.

In the long run, the gay community can expect progressive changes in many social policies and the President and Congress will, no doubt, move before the end of next year to repeal DOMA.  This will set the stage for court challenges in those states which do not recognize same-sex marriages.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.