Current Affairs

Obama’s call to civil rights group to back gay rights

Ramsey DeHani July 22, 2009
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In a speech to National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), US president Barack Obama called for an end to discrimination of gays and lesbians.

In his speech, to mark the 100th anniversary of the group, Obama said: “The pain of discrimination is still felt in America.”

Inequality and discrimination, he announced to the assembled crowd, which included NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, was still felt around the world.

“Racism is felt by African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different colour and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights,” he said.

Jason Bartlett, one of the US’s two openly gay black state legislators, commented in an article for, on the significance of Obama’s speech.

“LGBT issues,” he said, “are seen as different, and that supporting them is supporting white LGBT people rather than black LGBT people.”

Mr Bartlett, also the deputy director of gay group National Black Justice Coalition, said: “The president’s wording was so important. The phrase ‘brother and sister’ has a special cultural meaning. We need the NAACP out there saying, ‘LGBT rights are civil rights,’ and saying it because we who are LGBT and black are part of the black family.”

Obama, who has come under fire recently for not doing enough for gay rights, added in his speech that discrimination cannot exist in the US “on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America”.

Related topics: Americas

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