WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Friday said America is experiencing "real and lasting change" on equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Speaking at a White House reception, the president listed changes that have taken place during his administration, including the end of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act, an executive order requiring hospitals that accept federal funds to "treat LGBT patients just like any other patient," expansion of same-sex partner benefits for federal employees, and the Justice Department's decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
"Now, I've said before that I would never counsel patience; that it wasn't right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell women to be patient a century ago, or African-Americans to be patient a half century ago," he said. "After decades of inaction and indifference, you have every reason and right to push, loudly and forcefully, for equality.
"But three years ago, I also promised you this: I said that even if it took more time than we would like, we would see progress, we would see success, we would see real and lasting change. And together, that's what we're witnessing."
The White House reception came on the same day Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thanked gay, lesbian and bisexual service members as part of the Pentagon's first-ever celebration of gay rights month.