(CNSNews.com) – (EDITOR'S NOTE AND CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Obama is the first to address the HRC dinner.) This weekend, President Obama will leave the White House to attend an awards ceremony and fundraiser held by the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group. He is the second president to address the gathering.
Obama is slated to speak to members of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Saturday evening at the Washington Convention Center, where the group will hand out the first-ever Edward M. Kennedy National Leadership Award in honor of the late liberal senator’s support for the homosexual political agenda.
“We are honored to share this night with President Obama, who has called upon our nation to embrace LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered) people as brothers and sisters,” HRC President Joe Solomonese said in a statement.
Obama is only the second president to address homosexual activists.
A decade ago, President Clinton drew howls of protest from conservative groups after he invited HRC and other gay activist groups to the White House when he proclaimed June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” Two years earlier, he had spoken at the first HRC dinner and awards ceremony.
But Saturday’s appearance by Obama has sparked criticism from both ends of the same-sex marriage debate.
Some homosexual groups say Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises to try to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- and to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy created by President Clinton, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as their sexual orientation is not disclosed.
The Gay Liberation Network (GLN), based in Obama’s adopted hometown, Chicago, plans to picket outside the convention center on Saturday
“The time for talking is over,” GLN spokesman Andy Thayer told CNSNews.com of the speech.
“(Obama) has not only not moved quickly enough, he has actually backtracked. People may remember the flap about him removing most of his campaign promises from his Web site,” Thayer said. “It was only after protest that those things were returned to his Web site.”
Even the Human Rights Campaign has been critical of what they called Obama’s “slow progress” on homosexual issues.
In a June 15 letter to Obama, Solomonese criticized a legal brief filed by the Justice Department in favor of DOMA, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman and precludes states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriage.
“We clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours,” Solomonese said, adding that he held the Obama administration “to a higher standard” and that “(i)n the course of your campaign, I became convinced -- and I still want to believe --that you do, too.”
Solomonese did not talk to CNSNews.com for this story.
Same-sex marriage opponents, meanwhile, say the fact that Obama accepted the HRC invitation shows he is beholden to homosexual interest groups.
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, says by appearing before the group, the president risks losing support from moderate Americans who do not support the homosexual agenda.
“One of the problems with allying yourself with the homosexual movement is they are very demanding and they will continue to push, based on the promises you made,” LaBarbera told CNSNews.com
Most Americans still don’t know anything about the campaign promises Obama made to the homosexual lobby last year, LaBarbera said.
“You know, most Americans were completely unaware, because (Republican presidential candidate John) McCain never talked about it, that Obama pledged to repeal DOMA,” LaBarbera said.
The White House supports the homosexual political agenda -- even if it isn't yet advancing the repeal of DOMA, LaBarbera said.
“Even (Rep.) Barney Frank (D-Mass.) doesn’t want to move for the repeal of DOMA right now because Frank recognizes that, for them (homosexuals), it’s too early,” LaBarbera said.
Frank, the most senior openly homosexual member of Congress, notably supported the Justice Department’s defense of DOMA in June, saying that he thought it was “unwise” for liberals to ask the Obama administration to act contrary to a law “enacted by appropriate processes.”
“So the box that (Obama is) in, is that he’s made all these radical promises that barely got any coverage in the campaign. Now he’s out there with all these promises. They’re expecting these promises to be delivered and he can’t deliver them without further alienating the middle of America and driving his negative numbers up.”
“What I’m hoping will happen is people realize, ‘I never voted for this. I never voted to have out-of-state gay marriages mandatory to be honored in states like Texas.’ If the American people get the facts, they’ll see these are not mainstream values,” he said.
The president's speech will be broadcast live Saturday on C-SPAN and is set to begin at 7 pm EST.