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Obama promotes gay rights advances at LGBT fundraiser in New York

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in New York. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) annual LGBT fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in New York.

The president got a rousing reception at the gala for gay donors in response to his directive for an anti-discrimination executive order, even if it only applies to federal contractors.

Obama lacks authority to extend that protection to all Americans, but the order being drafted by the White House would affect about 14 million workers whose employers or states currently do not prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. The scope of the measure was tabulated by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, which studies sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.

Obama had resisted signing the order in hopes Congress would pass a broader non-discrimination measure that would apply to nearly all employers. While the Democratic-controlled Senate passed the legislation last year, the measure has languished in the Republican-led House and there is little sign that lawmakers will take it up in an election year.

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He urged supporters to keep pressure on Congress, noting that there are more states that allow same-sex marriage than have laws specifically protecting gays against workplace discrimination. And he said Americans should not forget strong anti-gay sentiments in some countries abroad.

“We can’t stop. We have to keep fighting, we have to keep fighting for the human rights of people around the world,” he said.

Obama had once vigorously objected to political groups like the Senate Majority PAC that can take unlimited donations. Once primarily conduits for Republican or conservative big money, such super PACs have now been embraced by liberals and Democrats. Obama’s appearance caps what has been a gradual acceptance of such groups.

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