Obama Blasts Republican Silence, Touts Progress in Equal Rights for Gay People

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President Barack Obama took the opportunity during his Human Rights Campaign speech Saturday to blast Republican silence on the booing of an American soldier and to advocate for increasing progress on LGBT equal rights.

Obama spoke to a crowd of over 3,000 people at the Human Rights Campaign’s 15th Annual National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center. His passionate and moving words were reminiscent of his campaign days as he discussed the progress made in LGBT rights over the past two years.

His remarks concerning the Republican presidential candidates who displayed disgraceful silence following the booing of a gay American soldier at a recent debate, were the most emotional and powerful moments of hid speech.

“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. We don’t believe in that,” Obama said to huge applause. “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.”

Find out more about his HRC speech after the jump…

The president also touted his administration’s major accomplishments: a hate-crime bill, a hospital visitation rights bill, the lifting of an HIV travel ban, a comprehensive strategy to fight HIV/AIDS, repeal of DADT, and the end to a government defense of DOMA. Going forward he is pushing for an employment anti-discrimination law for the LGBT community.

Toward the end of his speech, Obama also made some statements hinting at his support for marriage equality, which would be a great leap forward. Obama’s reference to New York’s recent marriage law as an example of progress seemed to implicitly endorse the legislature’s action making same-sex marriage legal. The statement could be a small milestone towards Obama’s own endorsement of marriage equality for all, but unfortunately the president did not specifically do so.

The president’s speech was an important moment for the defense of and fight for LGBT rights. Unfortunately, with his continued failure to explicitly support same-sex marriage, he still fell a little short of the mark.

View Obama’s full speech here:

Video streaming by Ustream

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