.- President Barack Obama on Monday addressed an âLGBT Prideâ reception at the White House, characterizing opponents of homosexual political issues as holding fast to âworn arguments and old attitudes.â One critical observer said the event aimed to placate the presidentâs donors but was âinsultingâ to mainstream Americans.
The president began his comments by saying âWelcome to your White House.â Praising what he considered the âextraordinary progress that we have made,â he said there were âunjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop.â
â[T]here are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted.â
Noting the effect of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the LGBT movement, the president said the push for âbasic equalityâ will continue. He said he has required all federal agencies to extend âas many federal benefits as possibleâ to âLGBT familiesâ and also noted his advocacy of repealing âthe so-called Defense of Marriage Actâ to help end âdiscrimination.â
He pledged to push for âhate crimesâ legislation, to increase more federal benefits for âLGBT couples and their children,â and to remove the militaryâs âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ policy barring open homosexuals from service.
âThe truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you -- or, for that matter, I -- would be standing here today,â the presidentâs remarkâs concluded. âSo we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest.â
The president also acknowledged some audience members, including the openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration widened rifts within the global Anglican Communion. The president also greeted by name Ambassadors Jim Hormel and Michael Guest, Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg, and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown. Brown describes herself as bisexual, while the men were all self-declared homosexuals.
Tom McClusky, Vice President of Family Research Council Action, commented about President Obamaâs remarks in a Tuesday phone interview with CNA.
McClusky said he thought the presidentâs comment about âworn arguments and old attitudesâ was âinsulting the majority of Americans who still believe in marriage as between one man and one woman.â
âA number of his policies are outside the mainstream,â he remarked. âIâm not offended by his comments, but I think many Americans would be.â
He said LGBT activists try to frame the debate by saying to opponents âyouâre the past, weâre the future.â
âIâd put it more like: Weâre in eternity, trying to fight the present,â he told CNA.
McClusky said the president has ânot at allâ engaged with those who oppose LGBT politics.
âItâs been a very one-sided discussion, even more so than on the life issue.â
He claimed the presidentâs action was not responding to a policy issue but rather a âdonor issue.â
âIâve never seen a White House move so quickly from a position until they started hearing a number of homosexual donors were going to stop giving to the Democratic Party,â he added.
McClusky also charged that the presidentâs pledge to âshift attitudesâ on homosexuality "certainly will" undermine parents who wish to instill sexual morals in their children. The FRC Action vice president pointed to Obamaâs appointment of Kevin Jennings to the Department of Education. Jennings headed the group Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which McClusky described as working to ânormalizeâ homosexuality among students from kindergarten onward.
âTheyâve made it very clear that parents should have no rights in this kind of education,â he charged, noting Massachusetts court cases where parents were told they did not have the right to determine what was appropriate for their schoolchildren.
McClusky told CNA he thought President Obama is getting a âmixed reactionâ among LGBT activists despite the number of LGBT appointments. In his view, there may be a backlash from the homosexual community but President Obama may fear more of a backlash among âeveryday Americans who donât agree with the homosexual agenda.â
âThose numbers are much greater,â he said.
Asked whether LGBT issues can succeed without marginalizing traditional morals and Christian beliefs, McClusky said it was âvery clearâ even to liberal scholars that âsexual licenseâ will win âevery single timeâ in disputes with religious liberty.
McClusky suggested that President Obama realizes he does not have the power to do what he intends and may run into resistance âeven among his alliesâ in Congress who face re-election.
He then described President Obama as âvery good at learning from past,â pointing to President Clinton overreach on homosexual issues which may have contributed to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.
âWith this threat from donor pullout,â McClusky said, President Obama is discovering that he needs to answer to his donors and to his âeclectic group of organizationsâ who helped elect him âbefore he answers to anybody else.â
CNA also sought comment from several officials with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including an official with their media relations office, but did not receive a response.