Gay community questions Obama's support

October 11, 2009 3:22:08 PM PDT
President Obama prepared to speak to the nation's largest gay rights group Saturday. His address came on the eve of a march in Washington by gays and lesbians who say the president has not fulfilled his campaign promises.

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There was general agreement among people who spoke with ABC7 Saturday that President Obama truly supports gay rights. The disagreement came with question of whether he is moving quickly enough to make changes.

In May, gay rights protestors rallied outside the Beverly Hilton where President Obama was speaking at a Democratic fundraiser. They wanted him to fulfill his campaign promises to the gay and lesbian community. On Saturday night the president is expected to address his future plans for them.

Many gay activists say they are running out of patience.

"We still haven't seen employment non-discrimination passed. He promised to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and has done nothing to do that," Geoff Kors told ABC7.

Kors heads the state's largest gay rights group called "Equality California." He points to the administration's support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"The Defense of Marriage Act, he's defended in court, in fact, more strongly than the Bush administration did," Kors said. "And, he's argued that even giving same-sex couples any benefits would hurt the economy."

Melissa Michelson told ABC7, "I think he is rapidly losing the support of the gay-lesbian community."

Michelson is a professor of political science at Stanford. She believes Mr. Obama is trying hard not to ruffle the feathers of gay rights opponents in Congress.

"He's hoarding his political capitol for what he probably sees as more important battles like health care, closing Guantanamo, like deciding what to do with Afghanistan and Iraq," she said.

A wide range of opinions was found found in the Castro District Saturday.

Gay rights are not at the head of Derek Gulbranson's priorities. "Health care comes first and dealing with the wars we have, and all of the other problems we have," he said.

"I don't think he's done a very good job right now with that. And, he needs to step up to the plate and do something," said Many Arm.

"I'm a patient gay citizen. I still believe in him and still believe he's going to fulfill every promise," said Kynn Crosby.

Obama was expected to tell his audience Saturday that he would sign legislation currently winding its way through Congress that would make it a federal crime to assault people based on their sexual orientation. But on the other hand, activists say he could change "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" overnight with just his signature, but he has not done so.

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