At a youth town hall event Thursday sponsored by MTV, BET and CMT, some 10,000 questions were tweeted President Obama’s way, most of them concerning education, economy, and LGBT issues. The most dramatic message of the day: “Dear President Obama, do you think being gay or trans is a choice?”(via The Page)
Obama hedged his response saying, “I don’t profess to be an expert,” but “I don’t think it’s a choice. I think that people are born with a certain makeup, and that we’re all children of God. We don’t make determinations about who we love. And that’s why I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.” (Even animals make same-sex overtures.)
Earlier, the president vowed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “will end and it will end on my watch.”
Throughout the hour-long event, Obama also heard from audience members – several of whom drew on personal experiences when asking their questions. In response to one college-student’s experience with Internet harassment and the recent suicide of a gay Rutgers University student, the president said, “We’ve got zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment, we have zero tolerance when it comes to harassing people because of their sexual orientation, because of their race, because of their ethnicity.” (See video of Gay Days at Disney World.)
Obama offered audience members the same guidance he says he gives his daughters: “If somebody is different from you, that’s not something you criticize, that’s something that you appreciate.”
Visit The Page for full details, and a full transcript, of the town hall.
– By Christina Crapanzano