By Sam Youngman - 06/29/09 07:32 AM EDT
This week, the president will host an event at the White House "recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. The event comes just days after Vice President Biden was dispatched to extend an olive branch to the gay community.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said not to expect any announcements on the two controversial policies surrounding next week's event.
But Gibbs insisted that the event was planned in honor of Gay Pride Month and not as a result of political pressure.
This is not Obama's first entreaty to the gay community. Earlier this month, he signed a presidential memorandum extending some federal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but many in the community say the president hasn't gone far enough.
At Thursday night's fundraiser, several high-profile gay Democratic fundraisers boycotted the event, and protesters outside held signs that read "Gay Uncle Toms," "SHAME" and "No Money for DOMA."
The event still raised $1 million, about $250,000 more than it did last year, but Biden acknowledged the impatience many in the gay community feel.
"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," Biden said.
He promised though that the administration will "put some pace on the ball" on some major issues, and he stressed that Obama is committed to "keeping the nation focused on the unfinished business of true equality for all our people."
Rep. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Why Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs MORE (D-Wis.), one of three openly gay members of Congress, met with the protesters outside Thursday's event, and as she turned to go inside the crowd urged her to "boycott the bigots."
"We do feel an impatience and a frustration, and I think it's really important that that be expressed both outside and inside," Baldwin told one reporter at the event.
Biden, who told the crowd he doesn't blame them for their "impatience," listed what the administration has accomplished for the community so far, including 60 appointments of gays and lesbians with nine that require Senate confirmation.
Despite what they've accomplished, however, Biden promised that the gay community's key issues won't be "delayed, put off or not end on [Obama's] plate," receiving standing ovations when he repeated the administration's pledge to repeal both DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"I hope you don't doubt the president's commitment," Biden said.