Kathleen Gilbert

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At New York gay rights fundraiser, Obama stops short of endorsing gay ‘marriage’

Kathleen Gilbert
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NEW YORK, June 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Obama’s message to gay activists in New York may not have been as straightforward or bold as some would have liked, but the president did deliver an extended wink and nudge to those pressuring him to support gay “marriage” on the federal level.

Joking that “I understand there’s a little debate going on here,” Obama addressed a Manhattan gay rights fundraiser gala the president himself hosted Thursday. About six hundred guests were in attendance, reportedly at a cost of up to $35,800 per ticket.

New York is currently on the brink of a vote about whether to extend legal marriage to homosexual couples. The GOP’s lengthy delay in deciding whether or not to allow the bill to come up for a vote has kept tension high in the state for several days. The fate of the bill reportedly depends on winning just one more vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

At the event Obama lauded the “progress” he has made on the gay rights agenda, but defended himself against audience members chanting “marriage” by pointing out the realities of the democratic process and urging patience in “the fight for basic equality.”

Obama said the federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman is “wrong” and “unfair,” and that he has “long believed” it should be repealed.

Obama has faced significant anger from gay rights quarters over his unwillingness to directly dismantle the 1997 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  However, Obama and the Justice Department have already acquiesced to the lobby’s demands to stop defending the law, causing Congressional Republicans to hire their own legal aid for its defense.

“Since I taught constitutional law for a while, I felt like I was in a pretty good position to agree with courts that have ruled that Section 3 of DOMA violates the Constitution,” he said.

However, he continued, “part of the reason that DOMA doesn’t make sense is that traditionally marriage has been decided by the states.”

“And that is — look, that’s the power of our democratic system. It’s not always pretty. There are setbacks. There are frustrations. But in grappling with tough and, at times, emotional issues in legislatures ... and sometimes even in the Oval Office, slowly but surely we find the way forward,” said Obama.

The president concluded by lauding “ordinary people” who progress the issue by “keeping the pressure up, including pressure on me,” he said.

“Yes, we have more work to do. Yes, we have more progress to make. Yes, I expect continued impatience with me on occasion,” Obama told a laughing crowd. “But understand this — look, I think of teenagers like the one who wrote me, and they remind me that there should be impatience when it comes to the fight for basic equality.”

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