President Obama told the audience at an LGBT Pride Month event at the White House Wednesday evening, June 29, that he has “met my commitments to the LGBT community.” But he also kept true to his promise at a press conference earlier in the day and offered no new information about his personal view of same-sex marriage or his support of marriage equality bills.
According to a White House press pool report, a “few hundred” people attended the event in the East Room –the third such LGBT Pride reception since Obama took office. Pool reporter Julie Mason of politico.com said the crowd was “mostly white and the men significantly outnumbered the women.”
The pool report indicated Obama was well-received by the audience, which gave him a “huge cheer” when he arrived and which interrupted him “a few times with spontaneous cheers and applause.”
According to the White House’s official transcript, President Obama told the audience “we’ve got a ways to go in the struggle” and repeated a remark he made at the first LGBT reception.
“I said it might take time to get everything we wanted done,” said Obama. “But I also [said I] expected to be judged not by the promises I made, but the promises I kept.”
Obama reiterated what his administration has done on LGBT issues since taking office and he said he expects to certify the military’s readiness to implement repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “in a matter of weeks, not months.”
“I told you I was against the Defense — so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” said the president. “I’ve long supported efforts to pass a repeal through Congress and, until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. The law is discriminatory. It violates the Constitution. It’s time for us to bring it to an end.”
“So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community. I have delivered on what I promised,” said Obama. “Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done. There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me. I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change. I understand that. I know I can count on you to let me know.”
Obama said he has been heartened by the progress he’s seen “that just a few years ago people would have thought [was] impossible.” Although he wasn’t specific about where he has witnessed that progress, his words could certainly apply to any number of LGBT developments.
“What gives me hope,” said Obama, “is the deeper shift that we’re seeing that’s a transformation not just in our laws but in the hearts and minds of people….It’s propelled not by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard and mutual respect.”
“It’s playing out in legislatures like New York,” said Obama. “It’s playing out in courtrooms…. It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her partner. It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they say, ‘Well, yeah, we knew that but, you know, you’re a good soldier.’ It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person out there know that they’re not alone. It happens when people look past their differences to understand our common humanity.”
The full text of his remarks is at the White House Web site.
Mason said the president’s remarks took about nine minutes.