Speaking a day after the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal took effect, President Obama reiterated his support for gay and lesbian rights during his speech at the United Nations.
Obama was giving a speech to explain his opposition to Palestine’s UN bid for statehood but also squeezed in comments on different global issues, including the rights of gays.
“No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” stated the president Wednesday.
This statement comes just one day after the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal, allowing openly gay citizens to serve in the military. The president had encouraged Congress to repeal the military ban on openly gay servicemen.
Obama has been criticized in the past for his flip-flopping stance on gay marriage. Originally, declaring himself a Christian who believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, his opinion has slowly evolved to become more open to gay and lesbian rights.
In June 2011, Anderson Cooper confronted Obama concerning his stance on gay marriage; this was one month before gay marriage was legalized in New York, another achievement for the gay community.
“Hard to see how the president’s opinion has changed so much. The only thing that has changed is his need for a wider audience to vote for him,” said Cooper.
Obama’s strong advocacy for gay and lesbian rights has not only set him apart from his predecessor, President George W. Bush, but it also sets him apart from his conservative counterparts in the 2012 presidential election.
Many of the Republican and Tea Party presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, have already signed a marriage pledge, which supports the federal constitution amendment stating marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Obama may lose Jewish votes in the upcoming 2012 race due to his hard stance on Israel.
He also stands in danger of losing the vote of the evangelical community, which ardently supports Israel.
Other gay rights legislation passed under the Obama Administration have included declaring the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and adding the gay and lesbian community to the hate crime victim list.