President Obama touted the advances his administration has made on LGBT rights and promised more at the White House LGBT Pride Month Celebration this afternoon.
“We passed a hate-crimes bill in Matthew Shepard’s name,” the president said to applause. “We lifted the HIV entry ban, released the first national HIV/AIDS strategy. We strengthened the Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT victims. We told hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid that they have to treat LGBT patients just like everybody else. Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act will ban insurance companies from denying someone from coverage just for being LGBT. We put in place new policies that treat transgender Americans with dignity and respect. And because no one should have to hide who they love to serve the country that they love, we ended ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ once and for all.”
He noted that there’s more to be done: “We’ve got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV. We’ve got to implement the protections in the Affordable Care Act. We’ve got to keep making our classrooms and our neighborhoods safe for all of our young people. And I agree with Susan, a PFLAG mom from Ohio — we’ve got to end LGBT discrimination in the places where we work.” He said he wants to sign the currently pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
He also observed that a teenager attending the reception with his two mothers “used to say that someday, he was going to become president and make it legal for his moms to get married. And now, [his mothers] added, ‘I don’t think we’re going to have to wait that long.’” Obama commented, “I agree that we’re not going to have to wait that long — because from Minnesota to Maryland, from the United States Senate to the NBA, it’s clear we’re reaching a turning point.” He concluded, “We’ve made this country a little more equal. We’ve made our world a little more full of love.”
Obama was introduced by 9-year-old twin sisters from California, Zea and Luna, who have two moms and had written to him about gun safety, education funding, and marriage equality. The attendees also included several other citizens from around the nation who had written to him, LGBT activists, Vice President Joe Biden, members of Congress, Maj. Gen. Patricia Rose and wife Julie Roth, and current and former administration officials such as Fred Hochberg, Elaine Kaplan, and John Berry.
See more images from the event below, plus video.