by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNNews.com | 11/12/2012 9:55 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Reelected US President Barack Obama is taking the lead on gay rights, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. said.
Thomas said the Democrat Obama, who resoundingly defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney in electoral college votes, 332-206, and 62 million to 58.7 million in the popular vote, has already championed immigration reform and women's issues.
"Obama took a lead on immigration, he took a lead on women, and now he's taking the lead on gays," the American envoy said on ANC's Talkback.
He said respect for gays and lesbians shows in how people treat each other at the US embassy in Manila.
"I'm so proud that we have in this embassy people who are openly gay and people who are conservative (yet) respecting each other," Thomas said.
"If you choose somebody based on their race or gender or who they're sleeping with, and they're no good, that reflects on you," he added.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 9 states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington-- as well as the District of Columbia.
Obama, in a May 9, 2012 interview with ABC News, said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
He is the first American president to support same-sex unions.
Obama also believes that states, and not the federal government, should decide on recognizing same-sex marriages.
Thomas, meanwhile, said the Obama administration is continuing to pursue immigration reform.
"We are a country of immigrants. We support legal immigration," he said.
"The second largest US immigrant section in the world is in Manila. This shows how many Filipinos will be legally immigrating to the US," he added.
"The United States has always been a fluid country. Fluidity has gone in different ways, shown different shapes. What is showing is changing demographics," the American envoy said.
Obama, during his election night speech following his victory over Romney, outlined reforms being undertaken under his administration.
"I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love," he said.
"It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try," he added.
"We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag," Obama said.
He said immigration reform remains one of his key focus following his fresh mandate.
"In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do," Obama said.