BERLIN — President Obama on Wednesday urged the international community to embrace equality and to “stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
In a wide-ranging speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, that enumerated a litany of challenges facing the world, Obama said he wanted to reignite the spirit that Berlin displayed when it fought to reunite itself during the Cold War.
Obama spoke repeatedly of seeking “peace with justice” around the world by confronting intolerance, poverty, Middle East conflicts and economic inequality.
“When we respect the faiths practiced in our churches and synagogues, our mosques and our temples, we’re more secure. When we welcome the immigrant with his talents or her dreams, we are renewed.
“When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well. We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness.
“And as long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do, then we’re going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.”
Germany currently provides legal recognition for same-sex unions in the form of registered partnerships.
Obama’s address before a crowd of about 6,000 comes nearly 50 years after John F. Kennedy’s famous Cold War speech in this once-divided city.
This is his first trip to Berlin as U.S. president. (Text and video of Obama’s speech is here.)