Obama says US commander in chief must support gay troops



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(2 Oct 2011) SHOTLIST
1. Wide of US President Barack Obama walking onto stage at Human Rights Campaign dinner
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
“Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It””s a pretty simple proposition.”
3. Wide of Obama at podium
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
“We don””t believe in the kind of smallness that says it””s okay for a stage full of political leaders – one of whom could end up being the president of the United States – being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don””t believe in that. We don””t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don””t believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander-in-chief, you can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it””s not politically convenient.”
5. Wide of Obama waving to crowd after speech
STORYLINE
President Barack Obama sharply rebuked his Republican rivals on Saturday, saying anyone who wants to be commander in chief must support the entire US military, including gay service members.
A combative Obama criticised Republican presidential candidates for staying silent when the crowd at a recent debate booed a gay soldier who asked a question of the contenders via videotape.
“You want to be commander-in-chief, you can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it””s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation””s largest gay rights organisation.
Obama touted his administration””s efforts to repeal the military””s ban on openly gay service members, as well as his orders to the Justice Department to stop enforcing a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
But, as expected, Obama stopped short of endorsing gay marriage, saying only that “every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”
Obama has said his views on gay marriage are “evolving”, but for now he only supports civil union.
Obama””s position on gay marriage has become a sore point for some gay activists who say they””re otherwise pleased with the president””s handling of issues important to them.
Some of the president””s backers say he could be wasting a chance to energise key segments of his base, including young people, if he doesn””t publicly advocate for gay marriage.
The president””s position on gay marriage puts him at odds with some of his supporters. Numerous recent polls suggest a slight majority of Americans favour giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and support is highest among Democrats and young people.
Obama has acknowledged that public support for gay marriage is building. During a meeting with liberal bloggers last October, he said “it””s pretty clear where the trend lines are going.”
Obama aides have given no indication of where the president””s evolution on gay marriage stands. And some gay rights advocates believe political considerations could keep Obama from publicly backing gay marriage until after the November 2012 election.
While gay rights advocates may not be getting everything they want from the president, they see little support for their cause among the field of Republican primary contenders.
Most top Republican presidential candidates, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, favour limiting marriage to unions between one man and one woman.

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