President Obama met Thursday evening with LGBT Democratic donors, pushing the case for his reelection at a Washington, D.C. dinner that netted more than $1.4 million for the campaign.
As expected, Obama’s speech was a mix of LGBT policy advances during his administration — “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, hospital visitation mandates, agency-level changes affecting LGBT workers — and broader campaign themes, from jobs to financial reform.
Excerpts of the president’s remarks:
“The good news is that we’re moving in the right direction. And when I came into office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month, and this past month we gained 250,000 — that’s a million job swing. (Applause.) And for the last 23 months, we’ve now created 3.7 million jobs. And that’s more than any time since 2000 — or, yes, since, 2005 — the number of jobs that we created last year, and more manufacturing jobs than any time since the 1990s.”
“So we’re making progress on that front now, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Today, we announced a housing settlement, brought about by our Attorney General and states attorneys all across the country. And as a consequence, we’re going to see billions of dollars in loan modifications and help to folks who are seeing their homes underwater. And that’s going to have a huge impact.”
“And so the work that we’ve done with respect to the LGBT community I think is just profoundly American and is at the heart of who we are. (Applause.) And that’s why I could not be prouder of the track record that we’ve done, starting with the very beginning when we started to change, through executive order, some of the federal policies. Kathleen — the work that she did making sure that hospital visitation was applied equally to same-sex couples, just like with anybody else’s loved ones. The changes we made at the State Department. The changes we made in terms of our own personnel policies. But also some very high-profile work, like “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“And what’s been striking over the course of these last three years is because we’ve rooted this work in this concept of fairness, and we haven’t gone out of our way to grab credit for it, we haven’t gone out of our way to call other folks names if they didn’t always agree with us on stuff, but we just kept plodding along — because of that, in some ways what’s been remarkable is how readily the public recognizes this is the right thing to do.”
“Think about — just take “don’t ask, don’t tell” as an example. The perception was somehow that this would be this huge, ugly issue. But because we did it methodically, because we brought the Pentagon in, because we got some very heroic support from people like Bob Gates and Mike Mullen, and they thought through institutionally how to do it effectively — since it happened, nothing’s happened. (Laughter and applause.) Nothing’s happened. We still have the best military by far on Earth.”
“We’re going to have more work to do on this issue, as is true on a lot of other issues. There’s still areas where fairness is not the rule. And we’re going to have to keep on pushing in the same way — persistently, politely, listening to folks who don’t always agree with us, but sticking to our guns in terms of what our values are all about. What American values are all about.”