Obama says U.S. to stand up for gay rights abroad

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told  U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers today to do more to  advance gay rights abroad, a move that promotes U.S. human  rights policy and appeals to a key Democratic constituency at  home.

In a memo released the same day as pop singer and gay  rights advocate Lady Gaga visited the White House, Obama said  he was deeply concerned about violence and discrimination  against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people worldwide  and called for efforts to prevent and respond faster to  abuses.

But Obama’s message offered nothing new to activists  campaigning for same-sex marriage in the United States, a  sensitive political issue.
Nonetheless, his announcement was welcomed by a leading  U.S.-based group representing gays and lesbians.

Gays and lesbians backed Obama strongly in the 2008 and he  is counting on their support for his 2012 campaign, which is  set to be a tougher slog as a result of the weak economy and  strong polling numbers for conservative Republicans.

Obama said last year his views on marriage for gay couples  were “constantly evolving” but has since held a cautious line  on an issue that could alienate social conservatives ahead of  next November’s presidential vote. He says it should be up to  states to decide and not the federal government.

Obama had no plans to meet Lady Gaga yesterday because he  was in Kansas for a speech advocating for middle-class tax  cuts.

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