Obama: 'The genius of America is that America can change'

June 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- President Obama said at a White House reception for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month "the genius of America is that America can change."

"From Minnesota to Maryland, from the United States Senate to the NBA, it's clear we're reaching a turning point," Obama said at the Thursday reception. "We've become not just more accepting; we've become more loving, as a country, and as a people. Hearts and minds change with time. Laws do, too. Change like that isn't something that starts here in Washington, but it's something that has the power that Washington has a great deal of difficulty resisting over time. ...

"And it's something that can be traced back to our Declaration of Independence -- the fundamental principle that all of us are created equal. And as I said in my Inaugural Address, if we truly are created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

Obama listed his administration's accomplishments including ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, passing a hate crimes bill, lifting the HIV entry ban and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act. He said next year the Affordable Care Act will ban insurance companies from denying coverage for LGBT enrollees.

But "we know we're not done yet," he said.

"I deeply believe in something that Martin Luther King Jr. said often, and that is that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Eventually, America gets it right. ...

"We've got to do the hard work of educating others, showing empathy to others, changing hearts and minds. And when we do that, then change occurs. It doesn't come always as quickly as we like, but progress comes.

"We've got to keep pushing. We've got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV. We've got to implement the protections in the Affordable Care Act. We've got to keep making our classrooms and our neighborhoods safe for all of our young people."

Obama said discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace must end.

"In 34 states, you can be fired just because of who you are or who you love," he said. "That's wrong. We've got to change it. There's a bipartisan bill moving forward in the Senate that would ban discrimination against all LGBT Americans in the workplace, now and forever. We need to get that passed. I want to sign that bill. We need to get it done now. ...

"The genius of America is that America can change. And people who love this country can change it. That's what we're called to do. And I hope that when we gather here next year, and the year after that, we'll be able to say, with pride and confidence, that together we've made our fellow citizens a little more free. We've made this country a little more equal. We've made our world a little more full of love," Obama said.

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