President Obama made an appearance on Late Night with Jay Leno last night, and the topic of Russia’s treatment of LGBT people was brought up (Kudos to Leno for asking about it!) here’s a transcript from the conversation:
Obama: “I’ve been very clear that, when it comes to universal rights, people’s basic liberties, whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that i think should transcend every country. I have no patience for countries that try and treat gays and lesbians or transgender persons, in ways that intimidate them, or are harmful to them.
Whats happening in Russia is not unique, when I was traveling in Africa, there were some countries that are doing a lot of good things for their people, who we are working with and helping on development issues. But in some cases, have persecuted gays and lesbians… one of the things I think its very important for me to speak out on is making sure that people are treated fairly and justly because that’s what we stand for…. and that’s something that should apply everywhere.
Leno: Do you think that should apply for the Olympics?
Obama: “I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and i think they understand that for most of the countries that compete in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently… if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, every judgement should be made on the track or in the swimming pool, and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
I think the most impressive part of Obama’s comments was his inclusion of transgender people. Now he may be sliding on some other issues (personal privacy, deadlocked House, over-seas wars, no federal action on ENDA) but I still get pretty amazed every time I hear the ol’ commander and chief even use the word ‘transgender.’