Washington, DC —
President Barack Obama on Friday officially declared June gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride month. Obama made a similar declaration last year.
The president used the opportunity to cheer on lawmakers as they inched closer to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the law that forbids gay troops from revealing their sexuality.
"Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation," Obama said in a statement, "and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity."
The statement also highlighted some of the gay rights initiatives advanced in the Obama administration.
"My administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a presidential memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions."
Adding that "our Nation draws its strength from our diversity," Obama called upon Americans to "observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exits."