By Justin Sink - 06/13/13 10:06 PM EDT
President Obama told attendees at an LGBT Pride Month celebration that the U.S. needs to get marriage equality "done now," but that he believed the nation had reached a "turning point" on gay rights.
"We're not going to have to wait that long," Obama said. "From Minnesota to Maryland, from the U.S. Senate to the NBA, it's clear we've reached a turning point."
"Eventually America gets it right. That doesn't mean we can be patient," Obama said. "We know from our own history that change happens because we push it to."
The president ticked off a number of accomplishments benefiting the gay community during his first term, including ending the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy and expanding protections for HIV-positive individuals under his signature healthcare plan. He also urged the Senate to pass bipartisan legislation restricting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The president said he and Vice President Biden were proof that monumental change could happen in a short amount of time.
"You've got a couple of guys on stage that I don't think anyone in their high schools would have thought would be the president and vice president of the United States," Obama said to laughter.
Some of the loudest applause of the event was reserved for Biden, who said last May that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage. The vice president's comments came before the president had announced his shift to support gay marriage. Obama later credited Biden with pushing forward his public support.
Obama also told those assembled he'd continue fighting on other social issues, including gun control. Friday will mark the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
"I'm not giving up the fight to keep our kids safe from gun violence," Obama said.
Obama did not, however, mention the administration's determination that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. As the president was speaking, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes was briefing reporters on the decision to extend new military support to rebels on the ground there.