A "fellow advocate" in the White House...
President Obama entered the East Room to cheers and applause from about 500 guests on Friday evening as he hosted his annual reception for LGBT Pride Month. Cell phones raised to capture the action, the excited crowd listened as the President, clad in a dark suit, paid tribute to LGBT Americans, and hailed his Administration's progress in civil rights--'"gay rights are human rights"--and pledged to do more.
"As long as I have the privilege of being the president, I promise you, you won't just have a friend in the White House, you'll have a fellow advocate," President Obama said.
The reception was the largest the President has hosted. A crucial bloc for the 2012 election, the President earlier this month attended LGBT-themed fundraisers in California. He listed his achievements, from banning health insurers from denying insurance based on sexual orientation or transgender status to repealing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
"Three years ago, I also promised you this: I said that even if it took more time than we would like, we would see progress, we would see success, we would see real and lasting change," the President said. "And together, that’s what we’re witnessing."
The President announced in May that he supports same-sex marriage, and he got more cheers from his guests as he noted that he has completed his personal evolution on the subject.
"Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I've indicated, personally Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue."
Guests included Members of Congress, community leaders and activists from from across the US, including Dr. Marjorie Hill of GMHC; students; entertainment industry notables, including Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary Bully, and Matt Bomer, star of the TV show White Collar; and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Uniformed members of the Armed Forces got a special shout out.
"We celebrate your joy at being able to come here, with your partners and your spouses to the White House," he said, to more cheers.
The crowd was entertained by a military band performing jazz tunes, and treated to a buffet that featured canapes, chocolate and vanilla mini cupcakes, and cheese puffs. The champagne flowed, and the guests busied themselves with toasting each other with their flutes and taking photos.
The President very briefly worked the rope line after his remarks, shaking hands before departing the East Room. (Above: Matt Bomer, right, with a guest at the reception, in an Instagram by vincentpaolo)
The White House video of the President's remarks:
*The transcript of the President's remarks.
On Friday, President had a busy day that included a Rose Garden press conference about the Administration's new immigration policy--designed to woo another crucial voting bloc--and a luncheon at DC's Lincoln Restaurant with the four winners of a campaign contest, 'Dinner with Barack IV.'
The President departed the White House at 6:00 PM, en route to Chicago with the First Family for a Father's Day weekend visit. He travels to Los Cabos, Mexico for the G20 Summit on Sunday.
*Top photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House; second by pool