Obama Touts Movement On Gay Rights, But Frustrations Remain

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jun 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-13 20:45:00-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN)– President Barack Obama hailed steps forward for gay, lesbian and transgendered people on Thursday, asserting this community’s fight for rights has reached a “turning point.”

“We’ve become not just more accepting, we’ve become more loving as a country and as a people,” he said. “Hearts and minds change with time; laws do, too.”

His sense of satisfaction and optimism — voiced at a White House gathering to mark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month — follows milestones on gay marriage, the inclusion of openly gay U.S. military service members and boosting health insurance access for same-sex partners.

But as the president himself acknowledged, obstacles remain. So, too, do frustrations among some gays and lesbians who have been steadfast Obama supporters but had hoped for even more action during his first five years in office.

A CNN analysis of Obama’s biggest fundraisers, known as bundlers, during the 2012 election cycle showed that at least 33 — or about one in every 16 — was openly gay. Together, they raised at least $8 million for the campaign between January and the end of March of last year.

Even with that backing, some have challenged the president over what they see as delays in implementing such promises as an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

That irritation erupted during a recent Democratic National Committee fundraiser when Ellen Sturtz of the gay rights group GetEQUALheckled first lady Michelle Obama.

“I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our children’s future and ensuring that they have everything they need to live happy and productive lives, I simply couldn’t stay silent any longer,” Sturtz said in a statement.

“I’m looking ahead at a generation of young people who could live full, honest, and open lives with the stroke of the president’s pen, and I was hoping that the first lady would share my concern for all of our young people,” Sturtz said.

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