President Barack Obama will keynote the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner in Washington, D.C. this evening, less than two weeks after the official end to “don’t ask, don’t tell."
The president’s Saturday speech, scheduled for 7:20 p.m. eastern time, is his second at the LGBT group’s national event. The keynote will be livestreamed on HRC.org.
As with a June appearance at an LGBT Democratic National Committee fundraiser one day prior to passage of the New York marriage bill, Obama has faced pressure from advocates to come out in favor of full marriage equality. It’s yet unknown whether he will update that “evolving” position in his remarks, or whether he will specifically denounce anti-gay marriage ballot measures brewing in Minnesota and North Carolina as he did with California’s Proposition 8.
In a July 2008 letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club in San Francisco, Obama, then Democratic nominee for the presidency, wrote that he opposed "the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution."
White House officials have since repeated the “divisive and discriminatory” language in condemning anti-marriage equality ballot measures. “While the President does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said last month after North Carolina lawmakers approved an antigay ballot measure to go before voters in May. "The President believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”
Neither state currently allows gay couples to get married, however. Both North Carolina and Minnesota have statutory bans against that right, and neither recognizes civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Obama’s first keynote at the HRC national dinner came in 2009 when he pledged to end DADT in his speech.
“On the heels of the end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead,” HRC president Joe Solmonese, who will leave his position in March, said in a statement last week.
Follow @TheAdvocateMag on Twitter for live updates Saturday evening as well as a report on Advocate.com.