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Obama to keynote major gay event

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON (BP) -- President Obama will be the keynote speaker Oct. 1 at a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian organization.

Obama, who also spoke at the event in 2009, won 70 percent of the homosexual vote in 2008, according to CNN exit polls. The event, HRC's 15th Annual National Dinner, is expected to draw nearly 3,000 attendees, according to an HRC press release.

"We are honored to share this night with President Obama who has a tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "On the heels of the end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead."

At the 2009 event, Obama told those gathered, "I'm here with a simple message: I'm here with you in that fight" He also criticized what he called "outworn arguments and old attitudes" about homosexuality -- language that was viewed by evangelicals as condemning orthodox interpretations of Scripture.

Obama's 2009 speech prompted Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist national strategist for gender issues and representative of the convention's Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals (, to criticize Obama's "inference ... that if an attitude is old it must be wrong." Stith said Obama had marginalized ex-gays.


"It is adherence to those timeless teachings of Scripture that has made it possible for thousands of men and women to find freedom from a struggle for which they did not ask and one from which they desperately sought freedom," Stith said then. "If our president truly wants to end discrimination, he will be equally passionate about the discrimination these heroic people face. He will care about their stories and fight for the right for their stories to be heard."

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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