(Des Moines, IA) Vice President Al Gore Tuesday said America is poised to grant anti-discrimination guarantees to gays and lesbians.

“We are poised to expand the circle of human dignity yet again and to say it will no longer be permissible to discriminate against someone because of who he or she falls in love with,” Gore told a group of about 250 Iowa democrats, many of whom were gay or lesbian.

Gore’s campaign invited politically active homosexuals in the Des Moines area to a Monday evening reception, an event that was closed to media photographers. Reporters heard Gore’s comments, though, from a speaker setup in another room on another floor.

Gore specifically mentioned his call for gays to openly serve in the military, his support for a law banning on-the-job discrimination against homosexuals, and his support for national hate crimes legislation.

“I do believe now is the time to be a part of an appeal to the political conscience of America, to say that this change is in the American tradition,” Gore said.

Gore said every American should be free to exercise what he termed their “authenticity” — like being openly gay or lesbian.

“I want you to know that I will stand for you,” Gore said, as the crowd applauded. “I will speak for you.”

Bill Bradley, Gore’s rival, was across town attending a union Christmas reception, but his campaign staff issued a statement of support for various issues, such as health care coverage for gay partners. Bradley also supports having gays openly serve in the U.S. military.

“Discrimination weakens us all,” Bradley said in the prepared statement.