President Obama just delivered his much-anticipated speech at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner, assuring the audience that he was determined to end the military's long-standing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Video and quotes from the speech, after the jump.
Update: The entire 25 minute speech can be watched here:
A few quotes from the speech:
- "It is a privilege to be here tonight to open for Lady GaGa. I've made it!"
- "You continue leading by the force of the arguments you make and by the power of the example that you set in your own lives, as parents, as friends, as PTA members and church members, as advocates and leaders in your community. And you're making a difference. That's the story of the movement for fairness and equality. And not just for those who are gay, but for all those in our history who have been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."
- "This story, this fight, continues now. And I'm here with a simple message. I'm here with you, in that fight. For even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot and we will not put aside issues of basic equality. I greatly appreciate the support I've received from many in this room. I also appreciate that many of you don't believe progress has come fast enough. I want to be honest about that, because it's important to be honest among friends."
- "My commitment to you is unwavering even as we wrestle with these enormous problems. And while progress may be taking longer than you'd like, as a result of the all that we we face, and that's the truth, do not doubt the direction we are headed, and the destination we will reach. My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will see a time in which we put a stop to discrimination against gays and lesbians, whether in the office or on the battlefield. You will see a time when we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."
- "Together, we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America. When no one has to be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love. But we have more work to do."
- "I have called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act."
- "We can not afford to cut from our ranks people with the critical skills we need to fight, anymore than we can afford for our military's integrity to force those willing to do so into careers encumbered and compromised by having to live a lie. So I am working with the Pentagon, it's leadership, and the members of the House and Senate on ending this policy. Legislation has been introduced in the House to make this happen. I will end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' That is my commitment to you."