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|Gay activists watchful as Obama delivers State of the Union address tonight|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|January 25, 2011 12:47|
Though the central focus of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address will likely be the economy, gay rights advocates hope the president mentions LGBT issues when he speaks to the nation tonight.
Obama is expected to highlight the recent repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in tonight’s address, but advocates hope the president will also issue calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
During last year's State of the Union speech, Obama called for DADT to be repealed: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do," Obama said at the time.
On Monday, Washington Blade correspondent Chris Johnson pressured White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on a 1996 questionnaire in which then-Illinois State Senate candidate Obama said of same-sex marriage: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
Gibbs, according to the Blade, declined to address the question directly. He then attempted to end the press conference:
Following his response to the second Blade question, Gibbs said, “Thanks guys,” seeming to indicate that he would take no more questions. Gibbs stayed at the podium after reporters in the White House press corps pressed him to take more questions.
Obama stated numerous times during the 2008 presidential campaign that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, but has since publicly questioned his position. In an interview with the Advocate in late December of last year, Obama said his opinion on same-sex marriage could still 'evolve':
“Like a lot of people, I’m wrestling with this. My attitudes are evolving on this. I have always firmly believed in having a robust civil union that provides the rights and benefits under the law that marriage does. I’ve wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples.
”And squaring that circle is something that I have not done yet, but I’m continually asking myself this question, and I do think that — I will make this observation, that I notice there is a big generational difference.”
Top photo: President Barack Obama addresses the nation tonight in the State of the Union address (official photo)
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