By Kelly Chernenkoff, ,
Published December 24, 2015
The Obama administration continues its fight to save face with the gay community, but it's a struggle that is far from resolved.
President Obama will make remarks Monday at a reception marking the 40th anniversary of the Greenwich Village demonstrations at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The 1969 incident marked a turning point in the battle over gay rights, when the Inn's gay patrons fought a police raid which was initiated under the guise of violations of liquor laws.
"Monday's event is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] Americans," White House spokesman Shin Inouye told FOX News. "Invited guests include families, volunteers and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month."
The event comes at a crucial moment in Obama's young presidency; the gay community is becoming increasingly vocal in its calls for the White House to take a more aggressive stance on gay rights issues.
Vice President Biden got a taste of that frustration Thursday night, when an event he spoke at was greeted with a flurry of about 50 angry protesters. They were admonishing attendees of the Democratic National Committee's LGBT Leadership Council fundraiser and urging participants to boycott it.
But Biden addressed the protesters' concerns head-on, admitting, "I am not unaware of the controversy swirling around this dinner and swirling around the speed, or lack thereof, that we are moving on issues that are of great importance to you."
But, he added, the administration is committed to "keeping the nation focused on the unfinished business of true equality for all our people."
The source of much of the anger in the gay community, which strongly supported Obama during the election, is the slow pace of the administration's efforts to repeal the military's 'don't ask, don't tell" policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA -- a 1996 law which specifically prohibits extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
Compounding their concerns is the fact that the Obama Justice Department has argued for the constitutionality of DOMA in court.
"[T]he Justice Department is charged with upholding the law of the land, even though the president believes that that law should be repealed," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has said.
At this point, the White House does retain the benefit of the doubt of many in the LGBT community.
All three openly gay members of Congress, Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank and Jared Polis, attended the democratic fundraiser. Some well-known activists, like David Mixner, were among the boycotters.
The protesters, however, weren't able to shave off much money. The event raised around $1 million, outperforming last year's take when Michelle Obama was the speaker.
Biden pledged to the attendees that the administration will "put some pace on the ball" in getting something done.