WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama told gay and lesbian supporters at a big-ticket fundraiser Thursday that there's more work to do to ensure fairness for all, but he said he "couldn't be prouder" of his track record for them.
Citing accomplishments like overturning the ban on gays serving openly in the military, Obama said the remarkable thing is how readily the public has gone along.
"The perception was somehow that this would be this huge ugly issue," Obama said of his decision to undo the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
"Since it happened — nothing's happened," he said.
Obama made the remarks to around 40 gay and lesbian donors who paid $35,800 each to see him speak at a private home in Washington.
The event came on the heels of a decision by a federal appeals court in California to strike down that state's ban on gay marriage. Obama, who supports civil unions but has stopped short of embracing gay marriage, made no reference to that development or his own views on the matter, which he's said are "evolving."
He boasted of his track record for gays and lesbians, mentioning promoting hospital visitation rights and equality in federal hiring in addition to "don't ask, don't tell."
"In some ways what's been remarkable is how readily the public recognizes this is the right thing to do," Obama said. But he said that "There's still areas where fairness is not the rule and we're going to have to keep on pushing in the same way — persistently, politely."
Co-hosts for the event included James Hormel, a gay activist appointed by President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Luxembourg, and Laura Ricketts, a Chicago Cubs co-owner who is gay. It was at the home of Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer.