Obama heckled by gay rights activists

19:59, April 21, 2010      

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President Obama faced angry hecklers at a Democratic fundraiser in Los Angeles for California Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday night calling on him to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military.

"Repeal 'don't ask, don't tell'!" the protesters yelled, referring to the 1993 military policy that bans gays and lesbians from openly serving. Obama responded, "We are going to do that; hey, hold on a second, hold on a second."

A large part of the crowd then began chanting Obama's signature campaign chant, "Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!"

During the 2008 campaign, Obama repeatedly pledged to kill the controversial policy, and in January's State of the Union address, he reiterated that vow.

However, progress has been slow. The administration claims that is because a full repeal would require a separate bill in Congress repudiating the congressionally approved 1993 law. There is already an overcrowded Capitol Hill agenda, but in March, the Pentagon announced it was relaxing enforcement of the ban, to clear the path for eventual repeal.

Returning to the issue of repeal in his Monday speech, Obama said, "When you've got an ally like Barbara Boxer and you've got an ally like me who are standing for the same thing, then you don't know exactly why you've got to holler, because we already hear you, all right." He directed remarks at the hecklers saying, "I mean, it would have made more sense to holler that at the people who oppose it."

The hecklers were not placated however. "It's time for equality for all Americans," shouted one. Obama again stressed his opposition to the ban, "I don't know why you're hollering." The group broke into another "Yes we can!" chant. Obama unperturbed and returned to the event's main theme, Boxer's re-election. Sen. Boxer "didn't even vote for 'don't ask, don't tell' in the first place," the president said. "So you know she's going to be in favor of repealing 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

Source: Xinhuanet/Agencies


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