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Obama: Religious Liberty 'Doesn't Grant Us the Freedom to Deny' Constitutional Rights of Others

Faith

"America has left the leaders of the Republican Party behind."

President Barack Obama speaks at a Democratic National Committee LGBT fundraising gala, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, held at Gotham Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Barack Obama addressed members of the LGBT community at a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday, proclaiming that religious freedom isn't a good or acceptable reason to deny other Americans their constitutional rights.

"We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions," Obama said at the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City, according to the Associated Press. "But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights."

President Barack Obama speaks at a Democratic National Committee LGBT fundraising gala, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, held at Gotham Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The president, who was introduced by Jim Obergefell — the plaintiff whose Supreme Court case led to the legalization of gay nuptials — said that people should "reject" any politicians who are supporting "new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes," saying that such sentiment will not help America move forward.

Obama took particular aim at Republicans' stances on same-sex marriage in noting that the nation is more supportive now than ever on issues surrounding homosexuality.

"The good news is they probably won’t use marriage equality as a wedge issue like they did in 2004 because the country has come too far," he said of GOP candidates. "In fact, America has left the leaders of the Republican Party behind."

Obama also received cheers over a quip made about gay rights in the military when he proclaimed, "We live in an America where 'don't ask, don't tell' is something that 'don't exist,'" the Associated Press reported.

Speaking of America's founding ideals, the president heralded the fact that the country is now a place "where our marriages are equal."

"We live in an America where a growing share of older generations recognize that love is love, and younger generations don't even know what all the fuss was about," Obama said. "Thanks to the unbending sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our founding ideals ... we now live in America where our marriages are equal as well."

President Barack Obama greets Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the same-sex marriage case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, as he is welcomed to the stage to speak at a Democratic National Committee LGBT fundraising gala, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, held at Gotham Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Obama's comments come amid ongoing debate over how to balance religious liberty and gay rights.

They also came after an Oregon bakery was fined $135,000 for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake and a Kentucky clerk was briefly jailed over her defiant choice not to issue marriage licenses.

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