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Fort Lauderdale gay activists ask Obama to do more

The national Democratic Party chairman asked gay activists gathered in Fort Lauderdale on Friday to keep working for President Barack Obama. But the crowd wanted something in return.

"When is the president going to do away with 'don't ask – don't tell' " military ban on gay soldiers? asked one lesbian during the event at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

"Get President Obama to change his opinion on gay marriage," demanded a gay man, seated alongside his partner of 20 years.

And an HIV-positive man asked the featured speaker, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, to tell Obama that his health insurance won't pay for all of his medications.

Gay voters overwhelmingly chose Obama nationwide in November, but constituted 4 percent of the electorate, according to CNN exit polls.

But gay issues are increasingly in the spotlight nationwide and in South Florida, home to one of the most politically vocal gay communities in the country. Maine's governor signed legislation earlier this month allowing gay marriage, political observers are talking about two open lesbian candidates for the Supreme Court and hate-crimes legislation recently passed the U.S. House.

While many gay activists say Obama scores higher than past presidents, and praise the hiring of at least 30 gay individuals to his administration, some temper the optimism.

"I think people are hopeful and impatient for justice and equality," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. "Everyone is aware of the challenges the president is facing and at the same time the promises made to address inequality are overdue."

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