Barack Obama: 'Incredible champion' of gay rights

Onenews NowJulie Pace

President Barack Obama has told the nation's most powerful homosexual-rights group that the country is becoming more homosexual friendly.

In an address to the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, Obama told the cheering crowd that there is a deep shift in attitudes towards homosexuality going on across the courtrooms and at church socials.

He also wasted no time in comparing what his administration has done for the homosexual movement verses what any GOP president would do for gay-rights activists.

In a sharp rebuke of his Republican rivals, Obama said anyone who wants to be commander in chief must support the entire U.S. military, including gay service members.

A combative Obama criticized GOP presidential candidates for staying silent when the crowd at a recent debate booed a gay soldier who asked a question of the contenders via videotape.

"You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient," Obama said.

Referencing the boos at the Sept. 22 Republican debate, he said: "We don't believe in standing silent when that happens."

Obama touted his administration's efforts to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members, as well as his orders to the Justice Department to stop enforcing a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

But, as expected, Obama stopped short of endorsing gay marriage, saying only that "every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law."

Obama has said his views on gay marriage are "evolving", but for now he only supports civil union.

Obama has acknowledged that public support for gay marriage is building. During a meeting with liberal bloggers last October, he said "it's pretty clear where the trend lines are going."

Obama aides have given no indication of where the president's evolution on gay marriage stands. And some gay rights advocates believe political considerations could keep Obama from publicly backing gay marriage until after the November 2012 election.

Most top Republican presidential candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, favor limiting marriage to unions between one man and one woman.

Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign's vice president for communications, said he expects Obama to eventually declare his support for gay marriage. And even if that doesn't happen before next year's election, he said the president's other actions on gay rights issued should not be ignored.

"He really has been an incredible champion for the issues that are important to us," Sainz said. "It's fair to say we've made more progress in the past two years than we have in the past 40 years combined."

In his remarks Saturday night, Obama implored the supportive crowd of 3,200 to stand with him in his re-election campaign, declaring: "This is a contest of values."