At LGBT fundraiser in New York, Obama gets standing ovations

President Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee's annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in New York.
President Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in New York.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

President Obama got two sustained standing ovations at the annual LGBT gala in Manhattan on Tuesday night -- one for promising an executive order the group has long wanted and one just for walking into the room.

After taking the stage at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser, Obama had to wait for at least a minute for the shouting to die down before he could start speaking.

A few minutes later, he delivered in person the news his team made public earlier in the week: that he has ordered them to draft an executive order aimed at federal contractors and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

If some lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Democrats had been dismayed with the president for his long wait before issuing the order, they were over it Tuesday.

“Sometimes you guys were a little impatient,” Obama joked. “Sometimes I had to say, ‘Will you just settle down for a second?’ ”


But the country doesn’t benefit when we’re “leaving talent off the field,” he said. “That’s why I’ve directed my staff ... " he went on, as the crowd’s applause drowned out most of the rest of his promise to issue the executive order.

The order doesn’t mean that advocates should let up the pressure on Congress, Obama said. The order covers a few million. Federal law would affect all employees.

“We’ve got to keep working for equality in the workplace,” Obama said. Every day millions of people go to work knowing they could lose their jobs, he said, not because of something they did “but because of who they are.”

After 15 minutes of trying to talk over the applause, Obama left to go raise money for fellow Democrats.