January 21, 2009

Will President Obama Be Good for Gays?

There already seems to be a difference opinion regarding that question. The San Francisco Chronicle is confident he will be:

As a senator, Obama co-sponsored legislation expanding federal hate crimes to add crimes perpetrated because of sexual orientation and identity. He supports amending the Employment Nondiscrimination Act to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity. Like every other major candidate in the 2008 presidential race, he favors civil unions rather than same-sex marriage. While that stance upsets some gay advocates, it's worth remembering that Obama voted "no" on the bill to ban same-sex marriage nationwide; for him, it's an issue that needs to be settled state by state.

In short, when it comes to gay rights, Obama gets it. His positions represent a 180-degree departure from the Bush administration's dogma.

The Washington Blade, however, is already chirping about Obama's lack of a direct reference to gays in his inauguration speech:

President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address that “all are equal,” but omitted a frequent stump-speech reference to gay Americans.

“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness,” he said.

Speaking more inclusively to people across the globe, Obama noted that “America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

The omission of a direct reference to gay Americans was a deviation for Obama, who had mentioned gays at many of his most significant stops along his way to the White House.

I believe one of Obama's biggest challenges will be trying to meet unrealistic expectations of how much he can do and how quickly he can do it. I actually saw one of my Facebook friends say in regards to his views on GLBT rights "so far, he's been all talk." This was within an hour of him being sworn in! We really need to keep some sense of perspective people.

While I have pointed out that, since he does not support full marriage rights, he is in fact not in favor of equality, just less discrimination, he is guaranteed to be light years ahead of Bush in his approach to GLBT rights. The only evidence you really need to support that is this link to the White House site, showing their agenda for GLBT civil rights. I dare say this was not a page previously found there and is a huge step forward for the GLBT community.


  1. I agree, Jim. I think it is only right and natural for the gay community to keep the pressure on, but really: on DAY ONE the whitehouse.gov site lists practically all the major issues that HRC advocates and invited Obama to sign on to. This is light years ahead of where even the Clinton adminstration was, and a total reversal of the Bush approach. Where I get off with my fellow gays is when "pressure" starts sounding like whining and when realistic political process is overruled in favor of an unrealistic level of expectation. I say, keep the pressure on, but use some common sense, too.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Obama has said he could be wrong about gay marriage and is open to re-thinking it. ii think he said this in one of his books. Also, the link to his whitehouse page for LGBT Civil Rights has always been on each of his websites, from when he was running, at barackobama.com, to the transition wensite change.gov to the new one, whitehouse.gov.

    i also echo Franks comments above! AMEN!

    Warm Regards,