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Topics In the News
President Obama Addresses Pride Month Reception: "The Genius of America is that America can change."
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/14/13
Last updated on: 06/14/13
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On June 13, 2013, President Obama, flanked by Vice-President Biden, addressed more than 100 activists gathered at the White House for the fifth LGBT Pride Month reception he has hosted. After rehearsing the achievements of his administration, he told the enthusiastic crowd that "We've made this country a little more equal. We've made our world a little more full of love." Cautioning us not to despair if there are setbacks along the way to full equality, he added, "The genius of America is that America can change."

The reception was attended by members of Congress, Major General Patricia Rose and her wife Julie Roth, current and former members of the administration, and citizens who had written to him about glbtq issues. The President was introduced by 9-year-old twin sisters from California, Zea and Luna, who have two moms, and had written to him about gun safety, education funding, and marriage equality.

The President admitted that much remains to be done to achieve equal rights for glbtq people, and outlined an agenda for his second term: "We've got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV. We've got to implement the protections in the Affordable Care Act. We've got to keep making our classrooms and our neighborhoods safe for all of our young people. And I agree with Susan, a PFLAG mom from Ohio--we've got to end LGBT discrimination in the places where we work."

He said he wants to sign the currently pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and expressed some optimism about its success in Congress. "I think we can make that happen," he said, "because after the last four and a half years, you can't tell me things can't happen. Look around. We've got gay and lesbian soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines who are here today. We've got married couples from places like New York and Washington State. You've got a couple of guys here on stage who I don't think anybody in their high schools thought would be the President and the Vice President of the United States. So don't tell me that things can't happen when we put our minds to them."

Most observers, however, doubt that ENDA can muster 60 votes in the Senate to survive a Republican filibuster and, even more, that it would be approved in the Republican-controlled House if it were ever allowed to be voted upon there.

The President did not mention the repeated calls from glbtq groups for an executive order requiring federal contractors not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Below is a video of the President's remarks.

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