President Barack Obama on Monday addressed an “LGBT Pride” reception at the White House, characterizing opponents of homosexual political issues as holding fast to “worn arguments and old attitudes.” One critical observer said the event aimed to placate the president’s donors but was “insulting” to mainstream Americans.
The president began his comments by saying “Welcome to your White House.” Praising what he considered the “extraordinary progress that we have made,” he said there were “unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop.”
“[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.”
Noting the effect of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the LGBT movement, the president said the push for “basic equality” will continue. He said he has required all federal agencies to extend “as many federal benefits as possible” to “LGBT families” and also noted his advocacy of repealing “the so-called Defense of Marriage Act” to help end “discrimination.”
He pledged to push for “hate crimes” legislation, to increase more federal benefits for “LGBT couples and their children,” and to remove the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from service.
“The 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,” the president’s remark’s concluded. “So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest.”
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 Obama’s remarks in a Tuesday phone interview with CNA.
McClusky said he thought the president’s comment about “worn arguments and old attitudes” was “insulting the majority of Americans who still believe in marriage as between one man and one woman.”
“A number of his policies are outside the mainstream,” he remarked. “I’m not offended by his comments, but I think many Americans would be.”
He said LGBT activists try to frame the debate by saying to opponents “you’re the past, we’re the future.”
“I’d put it more like: We’re in eternity, trying to fight the present,” he told CNA.
McClusky said the president has “not at all” engaged with those who oppose LGBT politics.
“It’s been a very one-sided discussion, even more so than on the life issue.”
He claimed the president’s action was not responding to a policy issue but rather a “donor issue.”
“I’ve 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,” he added.
McClusky also charged that the president’s pledge to “shift attitudes” on homosexuality "certainly will" undermine parents who wish to instill sexual morals in their children. The FRC Action vice president pointed to Obama’s 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 “normalize” homosexuality among students from kindergarten onward.
“They’ve made it very clear that parents should have no rights in this kind of education,” 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 “mixed reaction” 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 “everyday Americans who don’t agree with the homosexual agenda.”
“Those numbers are much greater,” he said.
Asked whether LGBT issues can succeed without marginalizing traditional morals and Christian beliefs, McClusky said it was “very clear” even to liberal scholars that “sexual license” will win “every single time” 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 “even among his allies” in Congress who face re-election.
He then described President Obama as “very good at learning from past,” pointing to President Clinton overreach on homosexual issues which may have contributed to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.
“With this threat from donor pullout,” McClusky said, President Obama is discovering that he needs to answer to his donors and to his “eclectic group of organizations” who helped elect him “before he answers to anybody else.”
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.