President Obama included gay rights in
his Thursday address to the NAACP.
The president was speaking at the
centennial celebration of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a group that advocates on
behalf of African-Americans.
The event, held in the ballroom of the
New York Hilton, drew several thousand dapper looking black men and
Speaking for about 45 minutes, Obama
urged blacks to take responsibility for themselves, but also said the
legacy of America's discriminatory past was still being felt today.
During a White House reception last
month with gay leaders, Obama said he would continue to speak on gay
rights in front of unlikely audiences. Candidate Obama did so and
often, but as president gay leaders had been feeling neglected.
“That's why I've spoken about these
issues not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences –
in front of African American church members, in front of other
audiences that have traditionally resisted these changes [gay
rights]. And that's what I'll continue to do. That's how we'll
shift attitudes. That's how we'll honor the legacy of leaders like
Frank [Kameny] and many others who have refused to accept anything
less than full and equal citizenship,” Obama said.
And Thursday night Obama delivered,
linking gay rights and civil rights to an audience that finds itself
struggling to reconcile with gay issues. While top NAACP leaders
support gay rights, many of its most prominent board members and
chapter leaders do not.
Obama said there might be “a
temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a
problem in 2009.”
“But make no mistake, the pain of
discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women
paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color
and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country.
By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to
pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still
attacked, still denied their rights.”
“On the 45th anniversary
of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on
account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love.
Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.”