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Obama pushes gay rights, but not without criticism from activists

Many gay rights activists think Obama isn’t doing enough. But he’s in no rush on same-sex marriage or the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

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Many gay rights advocates are losing patience with Obama who (unlike Bill Clinton) has no inclination to jump right into the military issue.

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"Eleven months after his election, he has failed to deliver on any of his commitments to gay Americans, but even worse has been his refusal to engage around these issues," Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton's administration on gay and lesbian policy, told the Associated Press.

"What he needs to do now is engage and deliver," said Socarides. "Spend some of his political capital on ending the gay military ban, a hugely symbolic issue. And with no intellectually sound arguments left against it, come out squarely for gay marriage equality."

Obama also is being nudged to retire today’s military policy by many members of Congress. Led by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) of Pennsylvania (the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress) 176 House members have signed on to a bill doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell.

Meanwhile, the US Senate -- and just last week, the US House of Representatives -- have passed versions of a bill broadening the federal hate-crime law to cover violence against gays.

Obama is eager to sign the new hate crimes law. And White House officials push back against the notion that the president is dragging his feet on gay rights.

"The president has been very clear. He's not hiding, he's not avoiding [the gay and lesbian] issue," Melody Barnes, the president's top domestic policy adviser, told the Washington Post. "He has walked into a range of different communities as well as looked into the eyes of those in the GLBT community and been very clear about what he supports and what he wants done and the way he thinks it's practical to get it done."

Washington, D.C. moves to legalize gay marriage. Read about it here.

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