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President Obama Speaks at HRC Annual National Dinner

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For the SECOND time since he assumed office in 2009, President Obama was the keynote speaker for the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner in Washington, D.C.

If his 18-minute impassioned speech wasn’t evidence enough, Obama told the crowd of about three-thousand people that he was “fired up” during his address at the HRC event on Saturday.

OBAMA: Every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition. (Applause.)

The president received several standing ovations throughout the night, particularly as he enumerated his administration’s accomplishments in securing LGBT rights. First he mentioned signing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill into law, then brought up the issue of hospital visitation rights and the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.

But–as expected–President Obama heavily emphasized the ending of the ban on openly-gay military service.

OBAMA: Many questioned whether we’d succeed in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress. (Applause.) We had to hold a coalition together. We had to keep up the pressure. We took some flak along the way. (Applause.) But with the help of HRC, we got it done. And “don’t ask, don’t tell” is history. (Applause.)

Obama also said that he wants the federal Defense of Marriage Act to join ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ “in the history books.” He said he wants a DOMA repeal bill to successfully pass through Congress, now that he has declared the law to be unconstitutional.

But the president said he was going to need the help of LGBT advocates to overturn DOMA and pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination act. He added that we also needed to come together and stand alongside LGBT youth struggling with their sexuality. And he publicly chastised the Republican presidential candidates for failing to respond to the boos aimed at a gay soldier during a GOP debate.

Though he acknowledged that the country still has a “ways to go” in the struggle for equality, Obama said he wants Americans to be “encouraged” about what’s to come.


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