January 21, 2010

Is the Window for LGBT Rights Legislation Closing?

That's the view of Steve Charing, editor of Baltimore OutLoud LGBT newspaper:

Back in March 2009 when President Obama's approval rating was still gaudy, I wrote that we had a window of opportunity to secure key legislative LGBT victories. ENDA, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," repeal of DOMA and the passage of a comprehensive hate crimes bill (recently enacted) all seemed within grasp.

The President's popularity, his campaign promises, and a more lgbt-friendly Democratic-controlled Congress created the formula for potentially historic victories in the lgbt arena. The time was right.

I also opined that we needed to seize this window of opportunity now because things can change in a hurry. In March I wrote:

"If history has taught us anything, nothing lasts forever. Mr. Obama could stumble as the economy tumbles more. He could be accused of allowing “bonus-gate” to erode an already low trajectory for consumer confidence. There could be an international crisis—somewhere, anywhere. Patience could easily wear thin. .. Anything can happen that could derail this presidency."

And so it did.

Much of the country now seems angry at President Obama and his policies. They rail against a 10% unemployment rate because he couldn't wave a magic wand to instantly fix the bleeding economy he had inherited from 8 years of Bush-Cheney. He was stuck with 2 wars, a healthcare crisis that needed mending, and giant corporations and financial institutions about to go under that would have led to a worldwide depression had there not been government intervention. In fact, had such calamities taken place, we'd be at 40% unemployment or worse.

Nonetheless, people are angry and fed up. This was evidenced in the Massachusetts debacle. The anti-incumbent fears are growing—nationally and locally—which is likely to result in a slaughter for Democrats in November unless there are dramatic improvements.

While Democrats in Congress (and the President) have been slow to act on LGBT initiatives due to other priorities, such as the economy, healthcare and national security, imagine the prospects of success with the GOP either in control or in a position to squash any progressive legislation. The Republicans win on "Gays, God and Guns."

Yes, the window is closing real fast—nationally and locally.

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