(CNSNews.com) – At the urging of homosexuals gathered at the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama praised gay “spouses” in his speech marking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “Pride Month.”
“We’ve got community leaders here. We've got grassroots organizers,” Obama told the gathering in the East Room of the White House. “We've got some incredible young people who are just doing great work all across the country -- folks who are standing up against discrimination, and for the rights of parents and children and partners and students.”
At that point, someone in the audience shouted, “and spouses.”
Obama concurred: “And spouses,” the president said, drawing applause.
“You’re fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally, and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit,” the president added.
Obama says he supports civil unions, but so far, he has refused to endorse same-sex marriage. He has said his views on that topic are “evolving.”
Obama’s remarks on Wednesday came just days after New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage, through an act of the legislature and with the enthusiastic support of the Democratic governor. In some other states, courts forced have forced the change.
In his speech, Obama sought to remind an important Democratic Party constituency about his administration’s efforts on behalf of the LGBT agenda, such as ending the ban on homosexuals serving in the military and signing a “hate crimes” law that made homosexuals a protected class.
The president of the United States also stressed that his Justice Department is refusing to defend the law of the land – the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It also says one state is not required to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state.
“I told you I was against the Defense -- so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” Obama told the LGBT gathering on Wednesday. “I've long supported efforts to pass a repeal through Congress. And until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. The law is discriminatory. It violates the Constitution. It’s time for us to bring it to an end.”
In February, the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend DOMA against lawsuits filed by legally married same-sex couples. Obama had come to the conclusion that the violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment, Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time.
“So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community. I have delivered on what I promised,” Obama told the LGBT gathering.
Earlier on Wednesday, Obama portrayed himself the most pro-homosexual president in American history:
“Let me start by saying that this administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation, and we have done more in the two and a half years that I’ve been in here than the previous 43 presidents to uphold that principle -- whether it’s ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ making sure that gay and lesbian partners can visit each other in hospitals, making sure that federal benefits can be provided to same-sex couples,” Obama said at a news conference.
“Across the board -- hate crimes -- we have made sure that that is a central principle of this administration, because I think it’s a central principle of America.”
LGBT health data
In another nod to the homosexual community, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that it has started planning for the collection and monitoring of LGBT health data.
The goal is to help researchers, policy makers and health providers “identify and address health disparities” affecting that group, among others.
“Health disparities have persistent and costly affects for minority communities, and the whole country,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Today we are taking critical steps toward ensuring the collection of useful national data on minority groups, including for the first time, LGBT populations.”
HHS said it plans to integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013 and begin a process to collect information on gender identity.