“I just wanted to acknowledge him, because he helped shape how I think about so many of these issues, and those sort of quiet heroes that sometimes don’t get acknowledged,” Obama said of Lawrence Goldyn, one of his college professors at Occidental College.
“I want to just talk a little bit about Lawrence,” Obama said. “When I went in as a freshman -- this is 1979 at Occidental College -- and according to Lawrence, I guess there were maybe a couple of other gay professors, but they weren’t wildly open about it,” Obama said. “Lawrence was not shy.
“I took a class from him, and because he was one of the young professors, we became really good friends,” Obama said. “But also, he was the first openly gay person that I knew who was unapologetic, who stood his ground.
“If somebody gave him guff, he’d give them guff right back and was, I think, part of a generation that really fought so many battles that ultimately came into fruition later,” Obama said.
Obama aired a long laundry list of his accomplishments in advancing an agenda for a demographic that represents about 3.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.
• Increasing the number of federal judges from one when he took office to 11 today.
• Reversing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the U.S. military.
• Refusal to enforce Defense of Marriage Act and, ultimately, its partial dismantling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
• Foreign policy that promotes rights for homosexuals in other countries around the world.
Obama also announced plans to prepare an executive order extending formal protection from discrimination for transgender federal workers.
"The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees, because it's the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent, and I agree. So if Congress won't act, I will,” he said.
“We’ve got some terrific public servants who are here today, including our Secretary of Labor Tom Perez,” Obama said. “We’ve got mayors, and we’ve got state legislators, and we’ve got LGBT members of my administration.”