September 29, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Obama’s HRC speech unknown to Carney

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday wouldn’t venture to say if President Obama will endorse marriage equality during an upcoming keynote at a Human Rights Campaign dinner.

Carney said he’s unaware of the planned content of the speech when asked by Bloomberg News if Obama will complete his evolution to publicly support same-sex marriage during his remarks or if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be the only newsworthy topic.

“I haven’t seen a draft of the remarks yet,” Carney said. “I don’t want to anticipate what he might say. I certainly think that the successful repeal and elimination of DADT is a topic worth discussing. It’s a major accomplishment and much needed one, but beyond that I don’t what he’ll say.”

Asked by the Washington Blade whether Obama is working on the speech himself, Carney replied, “He will, definitely. There are very few speeches that he gives that he hasn’t marked up — left-handed. So, he will.”

Obama is facing pressure from some LGBT activists to publicly come out for same-sex marriage during his speech at the 15th annual Human Rights Campaign dinner in D.C. About 3,000 attendees are expected for the event, which will take place at the Washington Convention Center.

Since last year, Obama has suggested his views could “evolve” to support marriage equality, although he hasn’t endorsed marriage rights for gay couples since that time.

In 1996, Obama, during his bid to become an Illinois state senator, said in a questionnaire response to the Windy City Times, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

A transcript of the exchange follows:

Bloomberg News: The president is expected to speak at the Human Rights Campaign dinner over the weekend, and the last time we checked in, his views on gay marriage were evolving. I wonder whether we’ll get an update on that evolution at the dinner or whether DADT will be essentially the only newsworthy topic of conversation.

Jay Carney: I haven’t seen a draft of the remarks yet. I don’t want to anticipate what he might say. I certainly think that the successful repeal and elimination of DADT is a topic worth discussing. It’s a major accomplishment and much needed one, but beyond that I don’t what he’ll say.

Washington Blade: Is the president working on the speech himself?

Carney: What is today Wednesday? Thursday? Probably not until tomorrow. I’m thinking about cycles.

He will, definitely. There are very few speeches that he gives that he hasn’t marked up — left-handed. So, he will.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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