President Obama fired up LGBT donors during a fund-raiser at the Beverly Hills home of out Glee creator Ryan Murphy with a story about working out at the gym, a discussion of "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, and his view on the nation's founding.
The president first attended a DNC LGBT Leadership Council gala Wednesday night at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles with about 600 people, and with Ellen DeGeneres introducing him. Then he headed to Murphy's house, where about 70 people were expected with tickets costing $25,000 each.
"It's not just our military might or the size of our economy," he told the donors. "It has to do with a set of ideas, a creed, that started more than 200 years ago, when a band of colonists decided that they had a different idea about self-governance and they had an idea that said everybody is created equal, and everybody can participate, and each of us, if we're willing to work hard and take responsibility, can take our lives as far as our dreams will take us."
Obama continued to make his argument about fairness, which will resonate with LGBT Americans who face discrimination in the workplace and the tax code, among other places.
"The America we believe in is one where everybody has a shot, everybody has a fair shot and everybody does their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and if you're willing to put your all into it, you can find a job or start a business and buy a home and send your kids to college and they're going to do even better than you can," he said. "And nobody is excluded from it. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love."
The president recalled taking his regular workout routine to Marine bases when he's on the road and got an empathetic laugh from the audience.
"It’s depressing working out at the gym at the Marine base because the Marines all have 2% body fat and can bench 500 pounds," he said to laughter, "and they make you feel bad."
But then he told the story of Marines coming up to thank him (and with workout tips) for repealing "don't ask, don't tell."
"They would say, you know what, Mr. President, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you repealing 'don’t ask, don’t tell,' because I’d been serving as a Marine for five years, for 10 years. There have been times where I haven’t been able to have my partner see me off as I’m being deployed. And for you to acknowledge me not just as a soldier but somebody who is a full citizen and equal participant in the life of this country really makes a difference."
Obama said repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is just the beginning.
"That’s why I appreciate you guys being on board," he told the donors, "because I want to finish what we started in 2008."
Read the complete speech on the following page.