Speaking Sunday at a Democratic
National Committee (DNC) gala in New York, President Barack Obama
said that freedom of religion should not interfere with the
constitutional rights of Americans.
“We affirm that we cherish our
religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious
traditions,” Obama said in addressing members of the LGBT
community. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious
freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans
their constitutional rights.”
“And that even as we are respectful
and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious
institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new
forms of discrimination as ways to scare up votes. That's not how we
move America forward.”
The comments were apparently a
reference to the controversy surrounding Kentucky county clerk Kim
Davis, who was found in contempt by a federal judge after losing a
series of legal appeals for refusing to comply with the Supreme
Court's summer ruling striking down gay marriage bans in all 50
states. Davis has said that issuing marriage licenses to gay and
lesbian couples would violate her conscience.
Obama was introduced Sunday by Jim
Obergefell, the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the legal
case that led to the Supreme Court's ruling.
The president also highlighted some of
his administration's achievements in promoting LGBT rights.
“[W]e live in an America where 'Don't
Ask, Don't Tell' is something that don't exist,” he said, a
reference to the Pentagon policy that barred gays from serving openly
in the military.
“And tonight, thanks to the unbending
sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who
never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our
founding ideals … we now live in an America where our marriages are
equal as well,” he