(UPDATE 2:44PACIFIC) Something odd happened at WhiteHouse.gov. The site said the live streaming was in progress but showed a blank black screen. This is upsetting since many LGBT people around the country have counted on the webcast in the past to see who got invited and hear President Obama’s remarks. I have asked the White House press office what’s happening and will update when and if I find out.
Meanwhile, CNN just broadcast a clip of the reception where Obama called on Congress to pass a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this from folks who want him to sign the executive order banning discrimination in federal contracts based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I’ll post the video of Obama’s remarks and stories filed by reporters who attended as soon as they are available.
In the meantime, here’s the pool report from a National Journal reporter of the event with East Coast times:
The President is hosting a reception to celebrate Pride month, as he has done for the past three years. Pool was ushered into the East Room at 4:45pm.
A military band welcomed guests with some smooth jazz. Various community leaders, students, politicians, members of the armed services and– we hear but cannot verify– Broadway stars mingled. The place was packed; rough estimates peg the head count at around 500.
Pooler was stationed near the appetizers but was totally unable to identify most of them. Little pastry parcels much in evidence, and what appeared to be cheese puffs. There were definitely tiny cupcakes, both chocolate and vanilla. All around the room, champagne glasses clinked and people took photos of each other with their phones. Attendees favored conservative suits.
POTUS [shorthand for President of the United States] entered to deliver remarks at 5:15pm, to huge applause and many raised phones, as people took more photos and recorded the speech.
Please see transcript for accurate quotes. Highlights below.
“You have every reason and right to push loudly and forcefully for equality,” POTUS told the assembled LGBT advocates and allies. “But three years ago I also promised you this…we would see progress…we would see real and lasting change. And that’s what we’re witnessing.”
POTUS went through the achievements of his administration, from banning health insurers from denying insurance based on sexual orientation or transgender status to repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Repeal of DADT got the most applause; second runner up was the administration’s decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
POTUS recognized some military service members in the audience.”We celebrate your joy at being able to come here, with your partners with your spouses to the White House,” he said.
“Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I’ve indicated, personally Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue,” POTUS said, to applause.
“As long as I have the privilege of being the president, I promise you, you won’t just have a friend in the White House, you’ll have a fellow advocate,” POTUS said.
Pool ushered out shortly after 5:30.
EARLIER: President Barack Obama is hosting a reception at the White House to observe LGBT Pride Month today at 5:10pm EST/2:10pm Pacific time. The White House is webcasting the reception live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.
In a Pride proclamation released earlier, Obama said his administration has worked to “level the playing field for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.” His support for marriage equality prompted organizers for a June 6 LGBT fundraiser for his re-election to move the event.