Speaking at an LGBT Democratic fundraising event last night, President Obama highlighted the progress that’s been made toward equality, but underlined the work that remains to be done.
“So Pride Month is a time for celebration, and this year we’ve got a lot to celebrate,” he said at the Democratic National Committee event in New York City, attended by about 550 people. “If you think about everything that’s happened in the last 12 months, it is remarkable. In nine more states you’re now free to marry the person you love — that includes my two home states of Hawaii and Illinois. The NFL drafted its first openly gay player. The U.S. Postal Service made history by putting an openly gay person on a stamp — the late, great Harvey Milk smiling from ear to ear.”
He noted how much has changed from 10 years ago, when ballot measures to ban same-sex marriage drew conservative voters to the polls and every such measure passed. “The Republican Party built their entire strategy for 2004 around this issue. … Now, here’s a good bet: they’re not going to try the same strategy in 2014,” he said.
Still, he noted, in many states there is resistance to marriage equality, and there is still a need to fight workplace discrimination against LGBT people, to keep up the battle against HIV and AIDS, and to defend the rights of LGBT people around the world. He mentioned his plans to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but added that Congress still needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“This is a country where no matter who you are or what you look like or how you came up or what your last name is or who you love — if you work hard and you take responsibility, you should be able to make it,” the president said. He concluded by urging his audience to be concerned about a range of issues, such as immigration reform, alleviating poverty, and ending racial and sex discrimination.
Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson emceed the event, Obama was introduced by Edie Windsor, the widow whose lawsuit gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, and her attorney, Roberta Kaplan. Read a transcript of Obama’s remarks here, and watch video of his speech below.