Solid interpretation of Obama's HRC speech this weekend: the connection to civil rights


It was new for a sitting president to address a major gay-rights gathering. I felt my eyes well up when he mentioned the words "bisexual" and "transgender"; I don't know that I've ever before heard those words spring from the mouth of POTUS.

But even more importantly, completely overlooked by activists as they battle for marriage rights was a critical turning point: In anticipation of the criticism he clearly expected to receive, Obama compared the movement for LGBT rights to the civil rights movement of the 1960s:

Now, I've said this before, I'll repeat it again -- it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago. (Applause.) But I will say this: We have made progress and we will make more.

This is not a statement without some risk for Obama. It's a comparison often met with resentment in the African-American community -- a comparison few have the moral authority to make. The nation's first African-American president is one of them.