While in L.A. yesterday, President Barack Obama stopped by The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where he addressed topics including the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the rise of anti-gay sentiment in Russia.
Leno told Obama he was impressed with the president's remarks following the acquittal last month of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Martin in February 2012.
"I think all of us were troubled by what happened," Obama said. "Any of us who are parents can imagine the heartache that those parents went through. It doesn't mean Trayvon was a perfect kid – none of us were." Obama continued, "When you're a teenager, especially a teenage boy, you're going to mess up, and you won't always have the best judgment. But what I think all of us agree to is that we should have a criminal justice system that's fair, that's just. And what I wanted to try to explain was why this was a particularly sensitive topic for African-American families."
Also on the show, Leno expressed bafflement at anti-gay laws in Russia – an issue that has ensnared Madonna and Lady Gaga, outspoken advocates for Russia's LGBT community, whom Russian officials investigated for visa violations after a complaint from a St. Petersburg lawmaker who has authored that city's restrictive anti-gay legislation. Obama said Russia is not unique in that arena, citing persecution of gays in African nations he has traveled to.
"When it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people's basic freedoms, whether you're discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating basic morality that I think should transcend every country," Obama said. "I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them, that are harmful to them."
The president said he doesn't believe thatgGay-rights issue in Russia will affect the upcoming Winter Olympics scheduled for Sochi, Russia, next year. "If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam. People's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it."
Obama also talked about the Affordable Care Act, and about the global travel advisory the government issued to U.S. citizens, prompted by Al Qaeda threats.
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